On July 3, 2002, about 1830 eastern daylight time, an unregistered homebuilt KitFox airplane was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while in the traffic pattern at a private airstrip near Sprakers, New York. The non-certificated pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local personal flight that departed from the private airstrip. No flight plan was filed and the flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to a witness who helped build the airplane, he arrived at the pilot's farm on the day of the accident about 0900, to prepare the airplane for an engine run and possible taxi test. About 1300, the airplane was removed from the shop where it was built, and the pilot taxied it to a 1,700-foot long grass runway located on his property. The pilot taxied the airplane for about 30 minutes. Afterwards, he advised the witness that the seat would dislodge from the seat channels whenever pressure was applied to both pedals. The witness determined that a wooden cover installed over the base of the control stick was interfering with the seat, so he removed the cover.
The pilot restarted the engine, and resumed taxiing the airplane. After approximately 15 minutes, the pilot taxied up to the witness, and told him he was "going to go for it," which surprised him because he did not think the pilot had planned to fly the airplane that day. The pilot taxied the airplane onto runway 27, engine noise increased, and the airplane accelerated down the runway. The airplane did four right traffic patterns. During all the traffic patterns, bank angle varied between 30 and 45 degrees. The downwind leg for the first two traffic patterns was flown between 800 and 1,000 feet agl, and for the second two, between 500 to 800 feet agl. During all the traffic patterns, the engine ran rough during low power settings, and pitch attitude oscillated between nose high and nose low while the airplane was on final. The witness estimated that during the oscillations aircraft loading varied between 0.0 G and 2.0 G.
During the first traffic pattern, the airplane did a low pass. During the second and third traffic patterns, the pilot made two attempts to land. In both cases, the airplane touched down and then bounced about three times before the pilot executed a go around. On the fourth traffic pattern, the airplane touched down, and once again, started to bounce. About the fourth bounce, the airplane ground looped to the right, the left wing contacted the ground, and the airplane came to a stop.
The pilot shut down the engine, and the witness walked over to the airplane to examine the wing, and to talk with the pilot. The witness determined that the wing was not damaged, and he and the pilot talked about the engine running rough. The pilot then started the engine and taxied the airplane back to the shop. Once at the shop, the pilot called the dealer who sold him the engine. The dealer advised the pilot that he needed to tighten the engine mounts, and to adjust the carburetor cables, which the pilot did with the assistance of the witness and some mechanics who worked on the pilot's farm.
Before the pilot reboarded, the witness asked about the handling characteristics of the airplane. The pilot responded that it was a "handful" and "very touchy." The witness told the pilot that he did not need to fly the airplane again, and urged him to just do some more taxi work. The witness thought the pilot agreed. The pilot then reboarded the airplane, started the engine, and taxied backed to the runway. Before the witness could get there, the airplane departed.
Once at the runway, the witness observed the airplane make five right traffic patterns for runway 27. During all the traffic patterns, bank angle never exceeded 30 degrees, the engine ran as expected, and the pilot appeared to manage pitch attitude better, while on final. The pilot conducted one low pass, and then made four attempts to land. During the first three attempts, the airplane touched down and then bounced down the runway about three times, before the pilot would execute a go-around. On the fourth landing attempt, the airplane bounced four times. Engine noise increased, and the airplane entered a "very aggressive climb." Pitch angle then reduced to about 10 to 15 degrees, and the airplane turned left crosswind about 300 feet agl. The airplane continued to climb at a "very slow airspeed," and then entered a left bank. Bank angle increased to 60 degrees, and the airplane entered a left spin. Because of terrain, the witness lost sight of the airplane when it was approximately 75 feet agl, but believes he saw it make one complete revolution. The airplane impacted the ground, and the witness, along with several other individuals, rushed to the accident site. Within a minute, local authorities were notified, and within 10 minutes, emergency medical personnel were on scene.
A weather observation was taken 21 minutes after the accident at the Albany International Airport (ALB), Albany, New York. Albany had a field elevation of 285 feet msl, and was located 36 miles to the southeast of the accident site. According to the observation, the wind was calm, visibility was 10 miles, sky clear, temperature was 89 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point was 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and the altimeter setting was 29.82 inches of mercury. In addition, a witness at the accident site estimated the winds were out of the west between 10 and 15 knots.
According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot's last third class medical certificate was dated August 9, 1993. No other records associated with the pilot were identified. In addition, a witness reported that the pilot had approximately 200 hours of total flight experience in an ultralight airplane, and that he did not maintain a pilot logbook.
According to an FAA inspector, the airplane impacted the ground in an open field. The left and right wings were intact, and attached to the fuselage. Both displayed impact damage, and their associated flight control surfaces were attached. The tail section was attached to the fuselage. It also displayed impact damage, and was bent right about 45 degrees. The horizontal and vertical stabilizers, along with their associated flight control surfaces, were attached. Flight control continuity was verified from the tail section to the cockpit and from both wings to the cockpit. Examination of the pilots seat revealed no evidence of slippage or malfunction. In addition, no preimpact failures with either the airframe or the engine were identified.
An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the St. Mary's Hospital in Amsterdam, New York, on July 5, 2002. Toxicological testing was not conducted.