On August 17, 2001, at 1140 Pacific daylight time, an experimental Johnson Lancair 360, N417DJ, impacted terrain in the front yard of a residence in Placerville, California. The airline transport certificated pilot and one passenger were fatally injured, and the amateur-built aircraft was destroyed. The personal flight was operated by the owner/pilot under 14 CFR Part 91, and departed from Sacramento International Airport about 1125. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to a deputy from the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department, the accident site was about 1,500 feet from the pilot's residence. The pilot had flown to Sacramento to pickup his daughter, who arrived from Alaska, and who was the passenger aboard in the accident. He was believed to have been flying over his home to alert his wife prior to landing at the nearby Placerville airport.
A neighbor of the pilot, in whose front yard the airplane crashed, reported that he and his wife were inside their home at the time of the accident. The neighbor has hearing limitations, but reported that his wife told him there was a brief whining sound before the crash. When he opened the front door, which faces north, the wreckage was in his front yard within a few feet of the house. He said there are trees surrounding the location and the fact that the plane didn't hit any of them told him it had to have come nearly straight down and narrowly missed his house. The wreckage was scattered in a fan-shaped pattern over about 200 feet to the northwest.
According to the aircraft recovery company employee, the engine was embedded into the (very hard) ground about 10 inches in a near-vertical attitude, and with the propeller attached.
The airframe logbook was not located after the accident and the engine tachometer hour meter was destroyed. An insurance renewal application dated June 15, 2001, was provided by the insurance adjustor for United States Aviation Underwriters. The application stated that the aircraft's most recent condition inspection was on June 10, 2001, at 218 hours total time. The same insurance application stated the pilot's total flying time was over 15,000 hours, with 218 hours in the Lancair 360, and of which 25 were in the previous 90 days.
The airplane was examined by the Safety Board investigator on December 4, 2001, at the facilities of Plain Parts in Pleasant Grove, California. The forward fuselage and wings were destroyed forward of the fuselage frame behind the pilot's seat station. It was not possible to determine if the entire aircraft was present due to extensive fracturing of the composite structure. There was no fire.
The vertical stabilizer and rudder were separated from the remaining section of the aft fuselage. The ailerons, elevators, and rudder were present, including mass balances. None of the hinge attachments exhibited working and the travel stops and hinges did not exhibit over-travel. The flight control cables were continuous from the empennage forward to the cockpit area; however, there were numerous cable separations in the wings, cockpit, and forward fuselage. The separated cable ends exhibited a "splayed-out" appearance and the individual wire ends were shiny.
The 2-blade propeller was attached to the engine. One blade was bent smoothly aft about 45 degrees over its inner half span. The other blade was bent aft about 10 degrees near the hub. Both blades exhibited chordwise striations near the tip and minimal leading edge damage. The nose of the engine crankcase was broken open.
The engine mount was collapsed and the firewall and instrument panel were wrapped over the accessory section of the engine. The instruments were destroyed. The throttle, propeller, and mixture controls were in the full forward position and bent upwards and to the right.
A toxicological analysis of the pilot was performed by the Federal Aviation Administration Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. No ethanol, drugs, or carbon monoxide were detected.
The aircraft wreckage was released to Mr. Ken Steiner, insurance adjustor for USAIG, on December 12, 2001.