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On October 21, 2001, at 1210 central daylight time, a Woodrow Stolp-Adams Starduster SA-100, N64HW, was destroyed during an in-flight collision with terrain and post-impact fire near Millstadt, Illinois. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight was operating under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 without a flight plan. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The flight's origin and intended destination are unknown.
According to witnesses to the accident, the airplane was maneuvering at a low altitude over their residence at the time of accident. The witnesses reported that the airplane was turning back towards their position when it impacted the top of a tree and subsequently impacted the terrain. The witnesses reported that subsequent to the collision with the terrain a fire erupted and destroyed the airplane. One witness reported that the airplane's engine had "normal" power prior to the impact with the tree line. Written witness statements are appended to this factual report.
According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot was the holder of a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane ratings. FAA records show the pilot's last medical examination was performed on August 8, 2001, and he was issued a third-class medical certificate with the limitation, "Must Have Available Glasses For Near Vision". At the pilot's last medical examination he reported that he had accumulated a total flight time of 1,500 hours.
The aircraft was a 1971 Woodrow Stolp-Adams Starduster SA-100, N64HW, serial number HW101. The Starduster SA-100 is an amateur-built experimental biplane. The Starduster SA-100 has a fabric-covered wing that incorporates a wooden spar and ribs. The fuselage is constructed of fabric-covered steel tubing and sheet aluminum stock. The Starduster SA-100 has a fixed conventional landing gear and can accommodate a single occupant. The airplane was powered by 150 horsepower Lycoming O-320-E engine. The empty weight of the airplane was 971 lbs and the maximum gross weight was 1,290 lbs. The FAA issued the airplane an Experimental Airworthiness Certificate on October 1, 1991.
A weather observation station, located at the St. Louis Downtown Airport (CPS), about 7 nautical miles (nm) northwest of the accident site, recorded the weather approximately five minutes after the accident as:
Observation Time: 1215
Wind: Light and variable in direction
Visibility: 10 statute miles
Sky Condition: Scattered clouds at 3,500 feet above ground level (agl)
Broken clouds at 4,400 feet agl
Temperature: 24 degrees centigrade
Dew Point: 17 degrees centigrade
Pressure: 30.07 inches of mercury
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
A FAA inspector performed the post-accident inspection of the airplane on October 21, 2001.
The accident site was located near the intersection of Urbana Road and Executive Drive in Millstadt, Illinois. The airplane impacted a tree line that ran north/south and perpendicular to Urbana Road. There was a debris field, approximately 125 feet long by 50 feet wide, which was orientated on an easterly heading. At the western edge of the debris field, approximately 125 feet from the tree line, there was a ground-impact and fragmented portions of tree material. The aircraft wreckage was located approximately 100 feet from the initial ground impact and was facing west. The entire airplane was exposed to varying degrees of fire damage. The fabric covering of the fuselage and tail surfaces were completely burned. The entire wing was consumed in the post-impact fire. The engine, cowling structure, and propeller were damaged by fire. No anomalies were found with the remaining portions of the flight control systems.
No anomalies were found with the airplane that could be associated with any pre-impact condition.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the St. Mary's Hospital, East St. Louis, Illinois, on October 22, 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 Vitreous
* No Drugs detected in Blood
The post-impact fire that ensued was extinguished by the local fire department. The airplane was destroyed during the fire.
14 CFR Part 91.119 (Minimum safe altitudes) states in part:
"Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:
(a) Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.
(b) Over congested areas. Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.
(c) Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure."
The FAA was a party to the investigation.