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On April 8, 2001, approximately 1410 mountain daylight time, a Sandell Zenith CH 200, N49DE, was destroyed when it impacted terrain southeast of runway 29 at Fremont County Airport, Canon City, Colorado. The commercial pilot and student pilot/passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the personal flight being conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91. The flight originated at Canon City approximately 1400.
The investigation revealed the student pilot/passenger had recently traded the airplane. The new owner had contracted with the commercial pilot to ferry the airplane back to Clarksville, Tennessee. The purpose of this flight was for the commercial pilot to familiarize himself with the airplane.
There were several witnesses to the accident. One witness observed the two pilots draining fuel from the fuel tank, and replacing it with 24.7 gallons of fresh 100LL fuel. He said the commercial pilot was seated in the left seat and the student pilot/passenger was seated in the right seat. He said the two pilots taxied to the end of runway 29 and made a high speed taxi down the runway. They then taxied back to the end of the runway and took off. He said the airplane accelerated slowly, then lifted off about halfway down the 5,400-foot runway. The airplane "appeared to pitch up, then the nose lowered to slightly above level attitude...[and climbed] at a very low climb angle." His attention was then diverted. When he next saw the airplane, it was on the downwind leg for runway 29 approximately 200 feet agl (above ground level; pattern altitude is 1,000 feet agl) and it "appeared to be flying very slowly." When the airplane was abeam the runway threshold, it "rolled to the left and dove inverted" into the ground.
The student pilot/passenger's wife also witnessed the accident but was too traumatized to be interviewed. According to a sheriff's department detective, she reported seeing the airplane bank left from downwind to base, and it "fluttered" and "shook" before diving to the ground.
Another witness described the takeoff as "poor." When the witness saw the airplane again, it was in a left spin.
The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at a location of 38 degrees, 25', 27.5" north latitude and 105 degrees, 05', 54" west longitude.
The left seat pilot, age 26, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single/multiengine land and instrument ratings, dated June 3, 1996; a flight instructor certificate with airplane single/multiengine and instrument ratings, dated June 6, 2000; and a ground instructor certificate with an advanced rating, dated June 7, 1996. He also held a second class airman medical certificate, dated September 20, 2000, with no restrictions or limitations. When the pilot applied for this medical certificate, he estimated he had accrued a total of 1,690 hours, of which 200 hours were logged in the previous 6 months. He had never flown a Zenith CH 200.
The right seat pilot, age 32, held a combination student pilot/third class airman medical certificate, dated January 18, 1999, and contained the restriction, "Shall wear corrective lenses." According to 14 CFR Part 61.19(b), "A student pilot certificate expires 24 calendar months from the month in which it was issued."
N49DE (s/n A-209), a Zenith CH 200 kit plane, was assembled in February 1994. A low-wing, all-metal, tricycle fixed landing gear design, it was powered by a Lycoming O-290-G engine (s/n 7566-24), rated at 125 horsepower, that turned a Sterba 2-blade wooden propeller (m/n 72X54). According to the maintenance records recovered by the sheriff's office at the accident site, the last condition inspection was made on August 29, 1999. Total time was not given. The last recorded total time, 199.5 hours airframe and engine, was recorded on May 1, 1998. According to the weight and balance documents, a sample computation showed the airplane with a gross weight of 1,629 pounds. The empty weight was given as 1,078 pounds, leaving a useful load of 551 pounds.
According to the pilot's and the owner's medical certificates, they weighed 200 and 232 pounds respectively. It is known that they purchased 24.7 gallons of fuel prior to departure. No baggage was found in the wreckage. Based upon all available information, the airplane was 29.2 pounds over gross weight, but the center of gravity was within the acceptable range (see docket exhibits for weight and balance calculations).
Weather recorded at Pueblo, Colorado (PUB), the closest official weather observation station located 34 miles east of the accident site, was as follows: (2045Z) Wind, 260 degrees at 11 knots, gusting to 17 knots; visibility, 10 miles; sky condition, clear; temperature, 21 degrees C.; dew point, -6 degrees C.; altimeter setting, 29.63 in Hg.
Witnesses at the accident site said that the westerly wind had been strong all day, estimated between 45 and 60 knots.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The inverted wreckage was located just southeast of the runway 29 threshold. The wreckage had been tied down by sheriff's deputies to prevent it from being blown away by the high wind. The nose was aligned on a magnetic heading of 331 degrees, and the separated engine was aligned on a magnetic heading of 223 degrees. The complete airframe was found at, or in the immediate vicinity of, the impact point. The engine was folded back and was under and to the right of the cockpit. Both wooden propeller blades were splintered. The flaps were in the UP position. The landing gear was fixed (not retractable). Both wing leading edges were crushed aft, with the left wing exhibiting greater damage. The vertical stabilizer and attached rudder were bent aft. Both horizontal stabilizers and attached elevators (with trim tabs) were relatively undamaged.
The left seat safety belt was fastened, but the shoulder harness was unfastened. The right seat safety belt had been cut by rescuers. It could not be determined if the shoulder harness had been fastened.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Despite the request of NTSB, the Fremont County coroner chose not to have autopsies performed on either occupant. Toxicological tests on the occupants disclosed no evidence of carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, ethanol, or drugs.
The Federal Aviation Administration was the only party to the investigation.
The wreckage was released on April 9, 2001. Neither the new owner of the airplane nor the airport manager would accept custody of the wreckage.
Other than the Federal Aviation Administration, there were no other parties to the investigation.