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On July 8, 2000, at 1855 central daylight time, a Bellanca 8KCAB, N8739V, piloted by an airline transport pilot, sustained substantial damage during an in-flight collision with the terrain while maneuvering at a low altitude near Capron, Illinois. Visual metrological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was operating under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 and was not on a flight plan. The pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The local flight departed the pilot's private airstrip near Capron, Illinois, at exact time unknown.
According to an incident report prepared by the Boone County Sheriff Department, the aircraft's co-owner was a witness to the accident and was interviewed concerning the circumstances of the accident. The report states that the witness was inside his residence when he heard an airplane make low-pass over his property at approximately 500 feet above ground level (agl) from the south, heading northbound. The witness reported that he went outside and saw the accident airplane approach his residence from the southwest at an altitude of 40-50 feet agl. The witness stated that after the low-pass the airplane climbed to altitude of 500 feet agl. The witness reported that the airplane did another low-pass, at an altitude lower than the second pass, and finished the low-pass with a climb back to approximately 500 feet agl. The witness reported that on the fourth and final pass the airplane approached from the north and, "it [the accident airplane] barely cleared the power lines on the north side of the property along Randall Rd. and that after clearing the power lines [the pilot] pitched the nose forward slightly to increase the airspeed of the aircraft after which he pulled the nose upward to approximately a 30-40 degree pitch and gained some altitude... ." The witness reported, "[the pilot] then attempted a barrel roll to the left and after completing the maneuver the aircraft's nose was down and the right wing hit the ground causing the aircraft to nose into the ground." A copy of the Sheriff Department's incident report, including the witness interview, is attached to this factual report.
According to FAA records, the pilot was the holder of an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane multi-engine land and instrument airplane operations. The pilot also was the holder of a commercial pilot certificate for single-engine land airplanes and a flight engineer certificate for turbojet-powered airplanes. FAA records show the pilot's last medical examination was on April 12, 2000, and the pilot was issued a first-class medical certificate with the limitation, "Must Have Available Glasses For Near Vision".
The pilot was reported to have accumulated a total flight time of approximately 20,200 hours, of which 4,200 hours were in single engine airplanes and 16,000 hours were in multiengine airplanes. The pilot had logged approximately 130 flight hours in the accident airplane make and model. The pilot was reported to have flown 269 hours in the last 90 days, of which 25 hours were in the accident airplane. The pilot was reported to have flown 89 hours in the last 30 days, of which 8 hours were in the accident airplane. The pilot was reported to have flown 1 hour during the last 24 hours.
The aircraft was a Bellanca 8KCAB, N8739V, serial number 198-75. The Bellanca 8KCAB is a production built, dual strutted high-wing airplane consisting of a fabric covered steel-tube fuselage and a fabric covered wing. The Bellanca 8KCAB has a fixed landing gear and can accommodate a pilot and a single passenger in a tandem seating arrangement. The FAA issued the airplane a Standard Airworthiness Certificate on July 17, 1975, and the airplane was certificated for both normal and acrobatic categories. The airplane had accumulated a total-time of 1,076.00 hours at the time of the accident. The last annual inspection was completed on February 25, 2000, at 1,037.50 hours. According to the aircraft maintenance logbooks, all applicable FAA Airworthiness Directives were complied with at the completion of the last annual inspection.
The engine was a 150-horsepower Lycoming AEIO-320-E1B, serial number L-5329-55A, and at the time of the accident had accumulated 1,076.00 total hours since new. The engine had accumulated 242.30 hours since the last major overhaul.
The propeller was a Hartzell HC-C2YL-4, serial number DW201, and at the time of the accident had accumulated 1,076.00 hours since new.
A weather observation station, located at the Greater Rockford Airport (RFD), 22 nautical miles southwest of the accident site, reported the weather 1 minute before the accident as:
Observation Time: 1854 cdt
Wind: 170-degrees at 8 knots
Visibility: 6 statute miles with haze
Sky Condition: 3,800 feet agl Scattered, 4,700 feet agl Broken
Temperature: 28-degrees centigrade
Dew Point: 24-degrees centigrade
Pressure: 30.02 inches of mercury
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
An examination of the wreckage was conducted on July 9, 2000.
The airplane impacted a soybean field adjacent to a house located at 10799 Randall Road in the town of Capron, Illinois. All components of the aircraft were accounted for at the accident site.
Flight control cable continuity for the entire right aileron control circuit was established. The aileron balance cable was fragmented and exhibited signatures consistent with tensile overload failure. Control cable continuity for the left aileron could not be established because of impact damage and fragmentation that exhibited signatures consistent with tensile overload failure. Examination of the aileron control system and its associated components did not reveal any evidence of any pre-impact jam or failure.
Flight control cable continuity for the elevator system was established from elevator to the cockpit control stick. The control cable circuitry for the elevator trim was established from the trim surface to the cockpit. Examination of the elevator system and its associated components did not reveal any evidence of any pre-impact jam or failure.
Flight control cable continuity for the rudder was established from the rudder to the cockpit rudder pedals. Examination of the rudder control cable circuit its and associated components did not reveal any evidence of any pre-impact jam or failure.
Both main fuel tanks, located in the wings, were ruptured. A header-tank was installed and a fluid, blue in color and consistent with 100 low-lead aviation fuel, was found in an outflow fuel-line that traveled from the tank forward through the firewall.
No anomalies, relative to the airframe or its systems, were found that could be associated to any pre-impact condition.
Engine continuity was established throughout the engine and its accessories by rotating the engine at the propeller flange. The left magneto was damaged and no spark was generated when the engine was rotated at the propeller flange. The right magneto was removed and it provided spark on all leads when rotated by hand. A fluid, blue in color and consistent with 100 low-lead aviation fuel, was found in the flow divider that provides fuel to the fuel injectors. The upper spark plug leads were removed and their electrodes were light gray in color. The propeller blades had S-shape bending, leading edge gouges, and chordwise scratching.
No anomalies, relative to the engine or its accessories, were found that could be associated to any pre-impact condition.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Boone County Coroner Facility, Belvidere, Illinois, on July 11, 2000.
A Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report was prepared by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The toxicology results for the pilot were:
* No Carbon Monoxide detected in Blood
* No Cyanide detected in Blood
* No Ethanol detected in Vitreous
* No Ethanol detected in Blood
* 13 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Ethanol detected in Brain
* 5 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Acetaldehyde detected in Brain
The toxicology report stated, "The ethanol found in this case is from postmortem ethanol formation and not from the ingestion of ethanol."
TESTS AND RESEARCH
According to the Bellanca 8KCAB Owner Manual, "Remember, altitude is your best insurance when doing aerobatics. According to Federal Aviation Regulations, the minimum legal altitude for aerobatics is 1500 feet AGL. Keep in mind that 1500 feet is therefore the minimum recovery altitude from any inadvertent maneuver and that 1000 feet of altitude can often be lost in a three-turn spin."
14 CFR Part 91.303, entitled "Aerobatic Flight", states:
"No person may operate an aircraft in aerobatic flight -
(a) Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement;
(b) Over an open air assembly of persons;
(c) Within the lateral boundaries of the surface areas of Class B, Class C, Class D, or Class E airspace designated for an airport;
(d) Within 4 nautical miles of the center line of any Federal airway;
(e) Below an altitude of 1,500 feet above the surface; or
(f) When flight visibility is less than 3 statute miles."
14 CFR Part 91.303 further states, "For the purposes of this section, aerobatic flight means an intentional maneuver involving an abrupt change in an aircraft's attitude, an abnormal attitude, or abnormal acceleration, not necessary for normal flight."
A party to the investigation was the Federal Aviation Administration.
The wreckage was released to a representative of the Boone County Sheriff Department on July 9, 2000.