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On March 22, 2001, at 1518 mountain standard time, a Vangilder Christen Eagle II, homebuilt, experimental airplane, N5JV, was destroyed during impact with terrain near Ogden, Utah. The airline transport pilot and the commercial pilot receiving instruction were both fatally injured. A private individual was operating the airplane under Title 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local instructional flight that originated at 1448. No flight plan had been filed.
According to the airplane's owner, he purchased the airplane on September 9, 2000. The airplane was then hangared until March 2001 when a condition inspection was performed by the commercial pilot (who was also a licensed airframe and power mechanic). The owner said he purchased a 10 hour block of flight instruction time from the instructor pilot, who had never flown a Christen Eagle II, but who said that he had aerobatic experience in similar aircraft.
On the day of the accident, the instructor pilot flew a 1 hour flight with the previous owner (a private pilot). The previous owner said that he had owned the airplane for 3 years, and had accumulated approximately 275 hours of flight experience in it. He stated that he and the instructor pilot practiced some touch and go landings, and then flew over the Harold Crane Waterfowl Management Area at 6,500 to 7,000 feet mean sea level (msl) to practice some stalls and slow flight. He said that he stopped the flight instructor on two occasions from performing a loop and an aileron roll. The previous owner said that he told the instructor pilot that aerobatic maneuvers should not be performed with two people in the airplane, because of weight and balance limitations. He also told the flight instructor of two experiences he had where the airplane went into an inverted spin from a hammer head stall.
The previous owner said that the airline transport pilot flight instructor was "very aggressive with the airplane and quick on the flight controls." He said that he was surprised that the flight instructor would attempt aerobatic maneuvers at such a low altitude.
The owner said he then flew with the flight instructor. They departed Ogden and flew northwest to the Harold Crane Waterfowl Management Area, and practiced stalls and other maneuvers; he reported that they never got higher than 7,000 feet msl. He did not say if they performed any aerobatic maneuvers. They then returned to Ogden to practice landings.
The flight instructor's third flight was with the commercial pilot. According to a witness and radar data, the airplane departed runway 34 and flew northwest bound. Radar data indicates that the airplane flew to the Harold Crane Waterfowl Management Area, and began to perform maneuvers. The last radar return was recorded at 1517:45. An Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) signal was received approximately one hour later. Search and rescue personnel located the downed airplane at approximately 2000.
The flight instructor, on an application for aviation insurance dated February 9, 2001, said that he had 5,800 hours of flight experience with 850 hours in tail wheel aircraft. He also reported that he had flown 250 hours during the previous 90 days and that he had 25 hours of flight experience in a Pitts, another aerobatic aircraft. He took his last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical exam on March 7, 2001.
The commercial pilot reported on his last FAA medical exam dated June 19, 2000, that he had 1,150 hours of flight experience.
The airplane was a single engine, propeller-driven, two seat, homebuilt airplane manufactured in June 1985. It was powered by a Lycoming AEIO-360-A1D, four cylinder, reciprocating, horizontally opposed, direct drive, air cooled, fuel injected engine, which had a maximum takeoff rating of 200 horsepower at sea level. The owner said that the condition inspection had been completed on March 21, 2001. The airplane's engine tachometer indicated 649.7 hours.
The airplane's designer recommended a maximum gross weight for normal flight at the time of the accident, of 1,600 pounds, and 1,520 pounds for aerobatic flight. The empty weight of the airplane was 1,071 pounds. The airplane carried 24 gallons of usable fuel (144 pounds), and 395 pounds of passengers and equipment. The total weight at the time of takeoff was calculated to be 1,610 pounds.
The owner of the airplane reported that the airplane's transponder was working, but the Mode C (altitude readout) was not operating.
At 1553, the weather conditions at the Ogden-Hinckley Airport (OGD, elevation 4,470 feet), 120 degrees 10 nautical miles (nm) from the accident site, were as follows: wind 330 degrees at 4 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; few clouds at 5,000 feet; temperature 83 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 39 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter setting 30.03 inches of mercury; density altitude 5,657 feet.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane was found on its right side, on a muddy, flat, marsh bottom (N41 degrees, 19.25'; W112 degrees, 9.67'; elevation 4,209 feet) in the Harold Crane Waterfowl Management Area. The forward portion of the fuselage was oriented 300 degrees, and the empennage was oriented 210 degrees. There was no ground scar leading to the wreckage. All of the airplane's major components were accounted for at the accident site. Flight control cable continuity was established for all flight control surfaces. The airplane's main fuel tank had been hydraulically ruptured, and fuel was observed at the crash site.
The instrument panel and cockpit flight controls were crushed. The throttle was found in the open position. The crankshaft and valve train freely rotated (establishing internal continuity), and thumb compression was found on all cylinders. The magnetos were hand turned, and both provided spark on each of their four leads. One propeller blade was bent aft, and showed signs of "S" twisting.
No preimpact engine or airframe anomalies, which might have affected the airplane's performance, were identified. No parachutes were found with the wreckage.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the flight instructor by the State of Utah, Department of Health, Salt Lake City, Utah, on March 23, 2001.
The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on the pilot. According to CAMI's report (#200100065001), the pilot's blood was tested for carbon monoxide and cyanide with negative results; his urine was tested for volatiles (ethanol) with negative results. The drug ranitidine (Zantac 75) was found in his urine. It is an over the counter medication used to reduce stomach acid.
The airplane, including all components and logbooks, was released to a representative of the owner's insurance company on April 22, 2001.