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On May 17, 2002, at 1631 eastern daylight time, a Luscombe LL-8-E, N71344, registered to a private owner, and operated by the private pilot, collided with the ground following a loss of elevator control in Oar, South Carolina. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14, CFR Part 91, and visual flight rules. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight. The pilot and passenger received fatal injuries and the airplane was destroyed. The flight departed from a private farm strip in Olar, South Carolina, at 1600 on May 17, 2002.
According to family members the pilot departed his home in Olar, South Carolina, and was enroute to his parents house for a family reunion when the accident occurred. Witnesses, who observed the accident, stated that the airplane was descending in a nose down attitude. They said that they believed the airplane was landing but was very fast. The airplane collided with the ground in a nose low attitude, and came to rest partially inverted.
The private pilot held a third class medical certificate dated May 22, 2001, with no waivers or limitations. The pilot had accumulated about 79 total flight hours of which 26 were in the Luscombe.
The two seat airplane, was manufactured in 1946, Serial number 2771. It had an all-metal structure with strut-braced wings, and fixed tail wheel undercarriage. The airplane was registered to a private owner April 3, 1986. According to the owner, the last annual inspection was done on August 1, 2001. Airplane maintenance records were not available for examination.
The nearest weather reporting facility at the time of the accident was Orangeburg Municipal Airport, Orangeburg, South Carolina. The 1653 surface weather observation was: sky clear of clouds, lowest ceiling broken at 7,000 feet, visibility 10 statute miles, altimeter 29.92 Hg, temperature 29 degrees Celsius, dew point 19 degrees Celsius, wind 170 degrees at 12 knots gusting to 18 knots.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Examination of the wreckage found the airplane resting in a plowed field in a 30-degree nose down attitude, with the cockpit tucked under the main fuselage. Both left and right wings were rolled inverted while the empennage remained upright aft of the wing roots.
The cockpit and all instrumentation were found crushed. Control continuity was established on all flight control surfaces. Examination of the elevator controls revealed that the push-pull control rod bolt for the elevator control was missing at the attachment point on the elevator control assembly. There was no distortion of the control rod hole, or the attachment hole. Also it was noted that there were no nuts installed on four bolts, which attach the main support brackets of the flight control assembly, and no cotter key was installed on the castellated nut for the left aileron control cable in the same area.
Examination of the engine found it stuck in the ground in a near vertical angle, which crushed the propeller spinner. The crankshaft flange was bent. The carburetor and engine mounts were broken off of the engine. The oil sump, intake tubes, and exhaust pipes were crushed. Further examination found the engine free to rotate and engine continuity was established and all cylinders had finger compression and suction. Both magnetos produced ignition spark at each lead when rotated by hand. The carburetor bowl was removed and no anomalies were noted. The overall condition and visual examination of the engine did not reveal any mechanical deficiencies.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Newberry Pathology Associates, P.A. Newberry, South Carolina, conducted the postmortem examination of the pilot on May 17, 2002. The cause of death was "Multiple Blunt Force Trauma." The Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma stated that they never received toxicology samples for testing.
The wreckage of N71344, was released to the registered owner of the aircraft on May 18, 2002.