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On May 23, 2002, at 1505 central daylight time, an amateur built Ms. Ryan Special (Berkut), N827CM, was destroyed when it collided with the terrain in Anderson, Indiana, following an inflight separation of the canard. The private pilot was fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions without a flight plan. The flight originated from Anderson Municipal Airport (AID), Anderson, Indiana, at 1500.
Mechanics who were employed by the pilot reported that the pilot had been installing an autopilot system in N827CM and he was taking it up for a test flight when the accident occurred.
The air traffic controller on duty at AID reported N827CM taxied to runway 18 and the pilot requested a departure to the south for a test flight. The controller reported that he approved an on course departure and cleared N827CM for takeoff. The controller reported he last observed N827CM about 2 miles south of AID, climbing in a normal attitude.
A witness reported that he had just stepped outside at which time he heard the airplane. He reported the airplane was "going down" and the engine did not sound like it was having trouble. The witness said the airplane descended into a field; nose first, in about a 45-degree angle. He stated, "I then looked back to the north and saw what looked like a wing, but for sure part of the plane floating down towards the woods."
The pilot, age 54, held a private pilot certificate with single engine land, multi-engine land and instrument ratings. The pilot held a third class medical certificate dated February 23, 2001. This certificate contained the restriction, "Holder shall possess glasses for near vision while exercising the privileges of his airman certificate." The accident pilot did not hold any maintenance certificates.
The pilot's most recent logbook was located. The first entry in this logbook was dated October 13, 1992. The last entry in this logbook is dated January 8, 2002. The logbook shows that 774.3 hours of flight time were carried over from a previous logbook. According to the logbook, the pilot had a total flight time of 1474.5 hours of which 1372 were as pilot-in-command. The logbook showed the pilot had logged 527.9 hours in an EZ airplane, which he owned. In addition, he logged 53.9 hours in Berkut airplanes. The EZ and Berkut airplanes are similar to each other. The pilot logged his first flight in N827CM on October 30, 2001. The logbook shows that he had 9.6 hours of flight time in N827CM as of the last entry.
The aircraft was a Ms. Ryan Special (Berkut), serial number 001. The airplane is two-seat, tandem, composite airplane with a canard. The airplane has a pusher propeller and is powered by a 260 horsepower, Lycoming IO-540-C4B5 engine.
The airplane was registered to an individual who resides in Montana. The owner of the airplane reported that he purchased the kit in the spring of 1998. The airplane owner reported that the airplane was assembled in Mt. Comfort, Indiana. In addition to the owner, the accident pilot's company was involved in the assembly of the airplane. According to the logbook, a Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR) inspected the airframe and engine, and issued the Experimental Amateur-Built Aircraft Operating Limitations Phase II and the Special Airworthiness Certificate on October 29, 2001.
Total time on the airplane could not be determined from either the wreckage or aircraft records. According to the accident pilot's logbooks, he had flown 9.6 hours in N827CM as of January 8, 2002. The airplane owner reported that the hours required by the operating limitations (25 hours) had not been flown off.
The accident pilot owned a business at the Anderson Municipal Airport. According to the airport manager, the business installed retractable landing gear on airplanes and also assisted builders of homebuilt airplanes in the assembly process. The business was previously located in Mt. Comfort, Indiana.
A mechanic who worked for the pilot reported that when he first saw N827CM in September 2001, the airplane was approximately 95 percent completed. He reported that near the end of November 2001, the airplane was moved to Mt. Comfort where it was test flown. (The pilot's logbook shows the first flight was October 30, 2001.) The mechanic reported the company was moved to Anderson in December 2001. (The pilot's logbook shows N827CM was flown from Mt. Comfort to AID on December 28, 2001.) The mechanic reported that a few more hours were then flown on the airplane and there were no major problems. This mechanic continued to report, "During the week preceding the accident the canard had been off the aircraft to allow access to the back of the instrument panel. [The pilot] had finally received the autopilot and had to do some re-wiring for it. On the day before the accident the canard was on the aircraft but I do not know if the two main bolts were installed. … On the afternoon of the 23rd, [the pilot] pushed the aircraft out of the hangar, got in, started the engine and taxied away. We figured he was going up to check out the auto-pilot and would be back shortly." This mechanic reported that the pilot was the only person who had been working on N827CM.
The aviation routine weather report (METAR) at AID showed the following weather conditions existed at 1445.
Wind: 180 degrees magnetic at 10 knots, gusting to 15 knots
Visibility: 10 statute miles
Sky Condition: Clear
Temperature: 24 degrees centigrade
Dew Point: 11 degree centigrade
Altimeter: 30.03 inches of mercury
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The accident occurred in a harvested cornfield located 1,500 feet south of CR 400 S and west of CR 300 E in Anderson. The wreckage was scattered in a southeast direction from the main impact point. A global positioning system (GPS) receiver recorded the position of the main impact point as 40-degrees 02.616' north latitude, 85-degrees 37.633' west longitude.
Inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Indianapolis Flight Standards District Office inspected the accident site and wreckage. One of the inspectors reported the main impact crater contained the aircraft engine and pieces of the propeller. The main impact crater was approximately 4 feet deep and 10 feet wide. Next along the debris field was a section of the right wing followed by the rear fuselage area and finally the cockpit area, which was approximately 60 feet from the main impact crater. The debris field extended approximately 250 to 300 feet from the main impact crater.
The canard was located 6/10 mile from the main wreckage on a bearing of 13 degrees. The GPS position of the canard was recorded as 40-degrees 03.128' north latitude, 85-degrees 37.532' west longitude. The canard was intact and contained minor damage to the leading edges and to the left tip. Neither of the bolts, which attach the canard to the shear web (bulkhead), were located. A section of the bulkhead, containing one of the imbedded bushings through which the attachment bolt would pass was located. Neither of the attachment tabs on the canard showed any significant damage. The perimeter of the canard skin is attached to the fuselage with screws. The screw holes on the canard were ripped through.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot in Muncie, Indiana, on May 24, 2002.
The FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, prepared a Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report. The toxicology results for the pilot were negative for all tests performed with the exception of Ethonal found in muscle tissue. The report states that the Ethonal was formed postmortem.
According to the aircraft designer, the canard attaches to the bulkhead with the attachment tabs on the forward side of the bulkhead. The canard is then secured with either two-5/16th inch bolts or two-1/4 inch bolts. The bolts pass through the canard attachment tabs, then through the bushings imbedded in the bulkhead. The designer reported there are 12 screws, which fasten the perimeter of the canard to the fuselage; however these screws were not designed to maintain or carry the loads without the bolts installed.