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On July 3, 2002, about 1610 eastern daylight time, a Perley A. Thomas Kitfox Outback experimental amateur-built airplane, N74PT, registered to and operated by a private individual, as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, crashed shortly after takeoff from a private strip in Edenton, North Carolina. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The commercial-rated pilot and one passenger received fatal injuries, and the airplane was destroyed. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.
A witness who was working at the landing strip stated that he observed the airplane as it was getting ready to depart, and initially the airplane was stationary for about 5 minutes, and the engine sounded as if it was "missing or sputtering", and not as it had sounded on previous occasions. He said that as the airplane departed it became airborne prior to reaching the flag, and as it proceeded down the runway it sounded as if it was losing power. As it passed the flag, the witness said it started moving to the left and impacted trees at the end of the runway.
The FAA inspector who responded to the scene of the accident stated that the pilot/owner and the airplane mechanic who were both in the accident airplane, had been working on it just prior to the accident flight. He further stated that they had removed the previous propeller and had installed another, and were embarking on a test flight after maintenance had been performed.
The pilot/owner held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single and multiengine land and instrument airplane ratings, last issued on May 8, 2002. He held an FAA third-class medical certificate, issued on May 29, 2001, with the limitation that the holder must wear corrective lenses for near and distant vision, while exercising the privileges of his airman certificate. Remnants of a pilot's logbook was found to have been damaged in the fire and was unreadable, No other pilot logbook was located and/or provided to the NTSB. On the pilot's last application for a medical certificate, he reported having a total of 10,000 flight hours.
N74PT is a Perley A. Thomas Kitfox Outback series 5 experimental amateur-built airplane, serial number 96060181. According to information obtained from the manufacturer of the kit, the kit had been purchased by the pilot, and delivered in June 1996. The kit was then assembled, and the airplane completed by the pilot/owner, after which it was issued certificate number S96060181 on August 12, 2000, by the FAA. Airplane records were not obtained by the NTSB, but according to FAA records, and based upon information obtained at the scene, N74PT was equipped with a Teledyne Continental Motors O-200, 100 horsepower engine, serial number 251879-A-48. The airplane was also equipped with a model DR272-EIT, IVO propeller.
According to the FAA inspector who responded to the accident scene, the IVO propeller had been installed just prior to the accident flight, and both the pilot/owner and his airplane mechanic had embarked on a local flight after maintenance had been performed. The inspector also stated that he found the electronic controller associated with the propeller still on a work bench in the workshop, and it had not been installed.
An official with Skystar Aircraft Corporation, manufacturer of the kit, stated that the kit was a series 5 kit, named "Outback", and it had a maximum takeoff gross weight of 1,550 pounds. The empty weight was about 950 pounds. The "Outback" when with a full load of fuel, carried twenty seven and a half gallons, and as configured would have had a ground roll of about 750 feet.
Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The accident occurred at the pilot/kitbuilder/owner's private air strip, located about 6.5 miles northeast of the Edenton Airport. According to a deputy with the Chowan County Sheriff's Office, who responded to the accident, the runway at the owner's private strip was about 2,400 feet long, and about 56 feet wide, and N74PT was taking off to the southeast at the time of the accident.
The Edenton Airport surface weather observation was 1603 surface weather observation was shy clear, winds from 160 at 7 knots, visibility 7 statute miles, temperature 34 degrees C, dewpoint temperature 22 degrees C, altimeter setting 29.92 inHg. The density altitude was about 2,100 feet in the area at the time of the accident.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
According to the FAA inspector who responded to the accident scene, the airplane crashed in Chowan County, North Carolina, about 200 feet off the end of the departure airport after colliding with trees. The airplane came to rest on its right side, in a thicket of trees, and a fire ensued. The fire consumed the airplane except for its frame and engine.
On August 5, 2002, under the supervision of an FAA inspector, an FAA licensed airframe and powerplant mechanic with an inspection authorization rating, conducted an examination of the accident airplane's engine. The examination revealed no evidence of preaccident mechanical failure or malfunction with the engine. The engine displayed damage consistent with exposure to heat from the postcrash fire. The drive train as well as the case and engine accessories displayed no anomalies.
The fire damaged propeller was shipped to the manufacturer, IVO Propeller, Bellflower, California, for examination. On August 14, 2002, the propeller was examined under the supervision of FAA inspectors, and the examination revealed that the propeller had been set to the low pitch limit.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Postmortem examination of the pilot and passenger was performed by Forensic Pathologists at Pitt County Memorial Hospital, Greenville, North Carolina, under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In the case of both individuals, the cause of death was attributed to the inhalation of products of combustion and thermal burns. No findings which could be considered causal were reported.
The FAA Toxicology Laboratory, Oklahoma City Oklahoma performed toxicological studies on samples obtained from the pilot and passenger. The samples were tested for carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and drugs. Metoprolol was detected in blood and urine obtained from the pilot. All tests on samples obtained from the mechanic/passenger were negative.