On June 13, 2002, about 1845 central daylight time, a homebuilt Harrison Pietenpol Air Camper, N7224X, operated by and registered to an individual, impacted with the ground just after takeoff from a private airstrip near Bainbridge, Georgia. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. The airplane was destroyed. The non-rated pilot reported serious injuries. One passenger was fatally injured. The local flight had originated from a private airstrip near Bainbridge, at 1844. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
Witnesses reported hearing the engine sputter and then saw the airplane nose into the ground. The pilot stated that takeoff and climb were "normal." At an altitude of about 300 feet he noticed the passenger in the front seat "squirm around" in his seat to look backwards. At that time the pilot noticed that the throttle came to "idle" and "would not respond." The pilot said that it appeared that the front seat passenger had "apparently used the connecting throttle linkage for a hand hold and broke or disconnected it" from the seat in the rear cockpit. With "no" power and the airplane almost at stall speed the pilot leveled off the airplane, and "crash straight ahead into the woods." The airplane impacted in a heavily wooded and swampy area, less than 1/2 mile from the takeoff point.
According to the FAA inspector's statement, the pilot was interviewed via telephone several times during the first and second weeks of August 2002, after his hospital and recuperative period. The pilot said that his takeoff was good, but at one point during the take-off, left bank procedure, he saw the passenger turn around looking toward the rear of the aircraft, and he could not activate the throttle during the left bank procedure. His only alternative at that time was fly the aircraft to the best of his ability.
In an interview with the pilot's cousin, who was at the grass strip, and a witness to the accident, said he heard the airplane's engine power reduce to idle, fly a short distance, and then disappear from view. He immediately dispatched to where he thought the airplane went down, found the airplane, and the pilot adjacent to a creek in a swampy area. The pilot was sitting up next to a tree near a creek. The pilot's cousin further stated that the pilot said to him upon arrival at the scene, "the throttles were somehow jammed, and he could not get the throttle to move." During the examination of the wreckage, it could not be ascertained whether the throttle was jammed or disconnected, due to impact damage, and the demolished condition of the airplane.