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On May 6, 2001, at 0908 eastern standard time (est), an experimental Madsen Lancair 320, N316M, built and piloted by a private pilot, was destroyed during an in-flight collision with the terrain and subsequent explosion/post-impact fire. The airplane was on initial climb from runway 09 (7,000 feet by 150 feet, dry/asphalt) at the Porter County Municipal Airport, Valparaiso, Indiana. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The local test 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 flight was departing at the time of the accident.
According to a written witness statement, the airplane started the takeoff roll at the beginning of runway 09 and appeared to be accelerating slower than normal. The witness reported, "The takeoff roll looked normal (no left or right variation) but the aircraft seem to roll out longer than normal for this type of aircraft (A more normal takeoff roll would be 2,500 ft.) this aircraft seemed to roll about 3,500 feet before rotation. After rotation the aircraft pitched up and down several cycles then settled down. But after the pitch cycles stopped the plane was not climbing. The landing gear was not cycled up it remained down. The plane was about 200 feet altitude when the up, down pitching began again. I noted the plane climbed about another 50 ft. Then the plane rolled to the left and entered a vertical position and impacted the ground about 1,000 [ft.] north of the runway centerline. Aircraft exploded on impact."
According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot was the holder of a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. FAA records show the pilot's last aviation medical examination was on June 3, 1999, and the pilot was issued a third-class medical certificate with the restriction, "Must have available glasses for near vision."
According to the pilot's flight logbook, the pilot had accumulated a total flight time of 202.6 hours as of his last logbook flight entry, dated October 20, 2000. The pilot had logged two flights in the accident airplane, accumulating 1.2 hours. Excluding the two previous flights in the accident airplane, the pilot did not have any other flight time in the same model as the accident airplane. According to the flight logbook, the pilot's first flight in the accident airplane was on October 15, 2000, and was 0.7 hour in duration. The first flight consisted of level flight and three landings. The pilot's second flight in the accident airplane was on October 20, 2000, and was 0.5 hour in duration. The second flight consisted of level flight, steep turns, and one landing. According to the flight logbooks, the accident flight was the pilot's third flight in the accident airplane.
According to FAA records, the pilot was issued an aircraft repairman certificate for the accident airplane on July 25, 2000.
The aircraft was an amateur-built experimental Madsen Lancair 320, serial number 88-244. The Lancair 320 is single-engine, low-wing monoplane of all-composite construction. The accident airplane was equipped with a retractable landing gear, constant speed three-bladed propeller, and can accommodate a pilot and a single passenger in a side-by-side seating arrangement. The FAA issued an experimental airworthiness certificate for the airplane on July 25, 2000. According to the airplane's maintenance logbooks and recorded flight times, the airframe had accumulated a total time of 4.3 hours since new. The engine was a 180 horsepower Lycoming IO-360-B1E, serial number L-22602-36A. The propeller was a three-bladed MT-Propeller MTV-18-B, hub serial number 01053. According to the propeller maintenance logbook, the propeller was installed on the accident airplane on March 31, 2001.
A weather observation station, located at the Porter County Municipal Airport, Valparaiso, Indiana, reported the weather about two minutes after the accident as:
Time: 0910 est
Wind: 110 degrees magnetic at 11 knots
Visibility: 10 statute miles
Sky Condition: Sky Clear
Temperature: 20 degrees Celsius
Dew Point: 11 degrees Celsius
Altimeter Setting: 30.13 inches-of-mercury
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
An inspector with the FAA performed the post-accident inspection of the airplane. The aircraft wreckage was located on the property of the Porter County Municipal Airport, approximately 1,000 feet northeast of the departure end of runway 09. The aircraft impacted in an open, level, harvested cornfield. There were no trees or other ground obstructions in the vicinity of the accident site. The airplane was consumed in the post-impact ground fire. No anomalies were found that could be associated with a pre-impact condition.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Porter Memorial Hospital, Valparaiso, Indiana, on May 7, 2001.
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 Urine
* Propranolol present in Blood
* Propranolol present in Liver
* Propranolol detected in Urine
* 48.977 (ug/ml, ug/g) Salicylate detected in Urine
TESTS AND RESEARCH
After the FAA certification of the accident airplane, the airplane was initially test flown by an acquaintance of the accident pilot. This pilot reported that he had operated the accident airplane six times, of which three were flights and three were ground-taxi tests. Subsequent to the third flight, which was completed during August 2000, the acquaintance briefed accident pilot concerning several issues with the accident airplane's handling and operating characteristics. The acquaintance reported that, "I told him that I felt he should cant the engine more in order to try to reduce the left yaw, that he needed to install a different propeller to prevent the engine from overspeeding, and that more cooling was necessary for the engine to prevent overheating." The acquaintance stated that he did not have any additional contact with the accident pilot until May 5, 2001. The acquaintance reported the accident pilot had told him that he had installed a new constant-speed propeller and manifold pressure indicator on the accident airplane. The acquaintance stated, "He [The accident pilot] asked if he should operate the engine at full throttle and control the manifold pressure with the propeller control. I advised him that this was not the way to control the engine power output, and we had a discussion about how he should operate the engine controls when increasing and decreasing power."