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On April 8, 2000, about 1343 central daylight time, an Aeronca 7AC, N84424, operated by a private pilot, was destroyed on impact with terrain following an in-flight loss of control on initial climb from a private airstrip near Embarrass, Minnesota. A post accident fire ensued. The personal flight was operating under 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was on file. The pilot was fatally injured. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and was destined for Tower, Minnesota.
A witness stated that he observed the airplane taking off from a private airstrip on the airstrip's northwest runway into the wind. The airplane turned towards the northeast and climbed on a crosswind departure. He said that he saw "...nothing out of the...nothing unordinary at all. It ah...he took off, and the airplane was performing very well and...and ah...as he started to...climb, the aircraft ah...a strong wind come in from the...from the rear of the aircraft, and it just...the airplane just quit flying. It just...the sheer [sic]...the wind sheer [sic] just...it was so strong that...it was ah...30 miles an hour at least, you know." He stated that the airplane was about 100 to 200 feet above ground level when it encountered the wind shear. The airplane was observed to spiral down.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with single engine land and sea class ratings. He held a Third Class Medical, dated November 24, 1999, with limitations for corrective lenses. At that medical date, the pilot listed 4,000 hours as his total pilot time and listed 120 hours as his pilot time in the past 6 months.
The airplane was an Aeronca 7AC, manufactured in 1946, in accordance with aircraft specification number A-759. Its serial number was 3122. The accident airplane's logbooks were not recovered. The engine listed in its specification was the Continental A-65-8 with a fixed pitch wooden propeller. The airplane was found with a Lycoming O-290-D, serial number 5645-21, installed on the airframe. A set of Madras Air Service Super Wing Tips was found installed. Supplemental Type Certificate A2309WE was found for the installation of the wing tips. An Ivoprop Magnum composite propeller was found attached to the engine. Records indicate that the propeller and associated parts were shipped to the pilot between September 23, 1998 and September 13. 1999. Supplemental Type Certificates were not found for the installation of the engine and the propeller.
At 1355, the Eveleth-Virginia Municipal Airport, Eveleth, Minnesota, observation was: Wind 260 degrees at 15 knots gusts to 19 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition scattered 5,000 feet broken 7,000 feet broken 8,000 feet; temperature 6 degrees C; dew point -6 degrees C; altimeter 30.02 inches of mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane came to rest on a private airstrip about 1,500 feet north of the midpoint of the strip used for takeoff. The airplane was found about 80 degrees pitch nose down and on about a southbound heading. One propeller blade was found buried about two feet in sandy soil. This blade exhibited nicks on its leading edge and chordwise scratching. The other blade was consumed by fire. The engine case and cylinders were found intact with its accessories damaged from fire. Fire consumed the covering on the fuselage, left wing, inboard section of the right wing, left elevator and portions of the rudder. Markings "N844" were found on the rudder's covering. The leading edge of the right wing was crushed. The tubular structure of the empennage was found deformed downward and forward as viewed on scene and coated with a soot like substance. Fastened between the empennage and fuselage, by safety wire, were two sections of stovepipe. The cockpit instrumentation was destroyed by fire. Viewing the face of the engine tachometer revealed an image of its pointer at about 2,500 rpm.
An on-scene investigation was conducted. The airplane exhibited continuity to all control surfaces. Continuity was found to the engine. A thumb compression was found at all cylinders.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Saint Louis County Medical Examiner on April 9, 2000.
The FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute prepared a Final Forensic Toxicology Accident Report. The report was negative for all tests performed.
A witness observed the fire occur when the airplane impacted the ground. Fire damage was limited to an area about five feet around the airplane.
A party to the investigation was the Federal Aviation Administration. The wreckage was released to a representative of Iron Range Towing.