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On August 5, 2001, about 1530 eastern daylight time, a Bellanca 7GCBC, N80195, was destroyed when it collided with trees and burned, while maneuvering near Sedgwick, Maine. The certificated private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight. No flight plan had been filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.
The pilot departed from Blue Hill Airport (07B), about 1500. Several witnesses reported seeing a low flying airplane maneuvering in the area prior to the accident.
One witness reported:
"I was out chopping wood. I saw the airplane 50 feet above trees. My house is 1-2 miles from crash site. I saw him make a sharp climb and then I didn't hear the engine. The plane then dived at a sharp angle. I then lost sight of the aircraft behind trees. 10-15 seconds later I saw smoke going straight out. Weather was clear."
Another witness who was at the Country View Restaurant reported:
"I heard a plane approaching. If you were standing in front of the restaurant with your back to the restaurant, the airplane flew over my head and away from me at the ten o'clock position. I estimated it to be at about 400 feet AGL. The plane passed over again about 5 minutes later. It was flying over and parallel to the road in a northerly direction. It was at the same altitude. Two minutes later, it came over the restaurant again and flew directly away from me. The aircraft did not seem unusually low, and was in a slight descent with the wing level. I thought I heard the engine sputter. I lost sight of the aircraft and someone said it crashed...."
The owner of the Country View Restaurant reported:
Watching A/C do aerial stunts. He was here before (1/2 mile away). A/C went into a dive (in control) Engine was fine (sounded). A/C disappeared while in dive. Saw black smoke, assumed crash."
Another witness at the Country View Restaurant stated:
"[The airplane] flew low over tree line. He turned 90 degree bank to right, started to descend, nose down, entered trees out of sight, saw smoke."
The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at 44 degrees, 2.06 minutes north latitude, and 68 degrees, 39.72 degrees west longitude.
The pilot's logbook was not recovered. According to the pilot's last application for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third class medical certificate, dated September 5, 2000, the pilot listed his total flight experience as 400 hours, with 50 hours in the preceding 6 months. Further, the pilot had received his private pilot certificate on January 4, 1983. He added his airplane single engine sea rating on August 18, 2000. On his airman application for the single engine sea rating, he listed his total flight experience as 380.6 hours, with 317.2 hours as pilot-in-command.
According to insurance company records, the pilot's total flight experience was 500 hours with 300 hours in tailwheel airplanes. His pilot- in command experience was estimated to be 430 hours.
The passenger held a student pilot certificate with a FAA third class medical certificate. According to FAA records, he had a total flight experience of 10 hours.
According to FAA medical records, the weight of the pilot was 223 pounds, and the weight of the passenger was 156 pounds.
According to FAA records, on July 9, 2001, the previous owner of the airplane reported the sale and gave the address of the pilot as the new owner. There was no record that the pilot ever registered the airplane with the FAA in his name.
The fuel capacity of the airplane was 39 gallons with 38 gallons useable (228 pounds). The zero fuel weight of the airplane (airplane empty weight and occupants) was 1,583 pounds. According to weight and balance calculations, with 11 gallons of fuel, the airplane would have weighed 1,649 pounds. With 38 gallons of fuel, the airplane would have weighed 1,817 pounds. According to the type certificate data sheet, the maximum allowable gross weight was 1,650 pounds.
No fuel service was available at the airport where the pilot kept the airplane, and the actual fuel load at departure, and at the time of the accident was not determined.
The airplane was equipped with functioning dual flight controls in both the forward and aft seats. In addition, the occupant of the forward seat had access to the electric starter. Solo flight was limited to the front seat only. However, with two occupants either person would have access to the flight controls and could manipulate them.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane was examined at the accident site on August 6, 2001. Trees in the vicinity of the accident site were estimated to be about 75 feet high. Broken trees branches and tree trucks were found on a descending angle of about 30 degrees, in an easterly direction. The broken trees terminated at the accident site. A burn area, which was about 20 feet wide and over 100 feet long, started just prior the wreckage and continued in an easterly direction.
The outboard 5 feet of the right wing was found in two sections, the outboard 3 feet, and inboard adjacent 2 feet. Neither section was burned, and they were between broken trees, adjacent to the burn area.
No breaks were observed in the primary flight control cables. However, various attach points and fittings had melted in the fire and were not identified.
Both wing tank fuel caps were identified inside the burn area.
Several pieces of wood, cut at an angle with a semi-smooth finish, were found along the debris path. The largest was triangular in shape, and measured about 5 inches across.
The engine sump was not identified. The attachment bolts for the sump on the right side of the engine were bent aft. One float was recovered from the carburetor. The rest of the carburetor was not identified. The right magneto was found outside of the burn area, and when rotated, produced spark. The left magneto was separated from the engine, but remained within the fire area and could not be tested. The engine crankshaft was rotated, and piston, valve train, and rear accessory gear movement was observed. Compression testing was not accomplished due to the position of the engine, and stiffness of rotation. The lower spark plugs were gray in appearance and had no evidence of impact damage or combustion deposits.
The engine tachometer was burned. The tachometer needle indicated 2,500 rpm. The numbers for recording hours of use were melted, and not identified. The current hours were not obtained.
The outboard 24 inches of one propeller blade was not identified. The end of the blade was melted. The other blade was bent forward, and exhibited chord wise scratches, and leading edge impact damage.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The toxicological testing report from the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was negative for drugs and alcohol for the pilot.
On August 6 and 7, 2001, autopsies were performed on the occupants by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, State of Maine, Augusta, Maine.
The following information was found in FAA-H-8083-3, Airplane Flying Handbook: Chapter 5, Slow Flight Stalls, and Spins:
"...the pilot must thoroughly understand that all stalls result solely from attempts to fly at excessively high angles of attack. During flight, the angle of attack of an airplane wing is determined by a number of factors, the most important of which are the airspeed, the gross weight of the airplane, and the load factors imposed by maneuvering.
At the same gross weight, airplane configuration, and power setting, a given airplane will consistently stall at the same indicated airspeed if no acceleration is involved. The airplane will, however, stall at a higher indicated airspeed when excessive maneuvering loads are imposed by steep turns, pull-ups, or other abrupt changes in its flightpath. Stalls entered from such flight situations are called "accelerated maneuver stalls", a term, which has no reference to the airspeeds involved...."
"Stalls which result from abrupt maneuvers tend to be more rapid, or severe, than the unaccelerated stalls, and because they occur at higher-than-normal airspeeds, they may be unexpected by an inexperienced pilot. Failure to take immediate steps toward recovery when an accelerated stall occurs may result in a complete loss of flight control, notably, power-on spins."
"The pilot should recognize when the stall is imminent and take prompt action to prevent a completely stalled condition. It is imperative that a prolonged stall, excessive airspeed, excessive loss of altitude, or spin be avoided."
The aircraft wreckage was released to the insurance adjustor on August 7, 2001.