On October 5, 2002, about 1347 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Bowers Velocity SR6E, N954PB, registered to and operated by an individual, impacted the ground near Valkaria, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 local personal flight. The airplane was destroyed. The private-rated pilot was fatally injured. The flight had originated from Valkaria Airport, about 1340. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
A witness on a nearby golf course said when he first saw the airplane it appeared to be in an "unusual attitude...nose at a high angle of attack." It appeared to him that the airplane was "...within 45 degrees of being completely inverted," but added he "could be mistaken about it being inverted." He heard the engine go to a "high power setting for just a moment, and then go quiet." He watched the airplane as it "nosed over and started down," but lost sight of it as it went below the tree line. He said, in summary, it appeared that the airplane "stalled and became unstable."
Another witness who was with the pilot before the flight said, he had picked him up at his hotel in Melbourne, Florida, about 0730, and drove him to Valkaria Airport. They arrived at the airport about 0800 and the pilot spent the morning inspecting his airplane. He said the pilot was concerned that the HSI and the GPS were not working proper. The pilot decided to taxi to the fuel pump and get "enough fuel" for the trip home. He pumped in about 20 additional gallons, 10 on each side, which brought the total fuel to "about two-thirds full." The pilot then taxied to the hangar. The pilot had a technician look at the instruments, and found out his instruments were "not working properly." The pilot explained that he had to returned home, so the technician loaned him a another hand held GPS for his trip. The pilot decided to leave immediately due to a cold front that was moving into the area of his destination airport. The witness watched the pilot enter the airplane, set the GPS unit on the glare shield, and taxi off toward runway 32. The witness watched the airplane depart on runway 32, and climb straight out. He said, when the flight reached an altitude of about 400 feet, it turned to the west, the gear was retracted, and the airplane continued to climb to about 600 feet, and turned left. The airplane flew on this course for about 10 seconds, turned left towards the airport, continued toward the airport, and was descending. Upon reaching the airport the airplane was flying "...very slow and wallowing," made a "sharp" left turn, and disappeared behind the trees out of his vision. He said he could hear the engine running up until the time it went behind the trees out his vision. He heard the impact a few seconds later. The witnesses said he had flown N954BP on the airplane's forth and fifth flights, which he said were both about -hour long, and according to him the airplane flew well on both flights.
According to the FAA inspector's statement, witnesses said the takeoff appeared to be normal. As the flight made its way back towards the airport, it appeared to be at a "relatively slow speed," and disappeared below the trees. The aircraft impacted the terrain about 800 feet southwest of runway 9, and about 150 feet south of the runway centerline. At the crash site, the airplane was found inverted with the nose of the aircraft heading in a northwesterly direction, and the rear mounted engine was up in the air. Only one propeller blade (composite) was damaged, the other two blades were intact, and in "good condition." The blades also appeared to be in a "high pitch angle." The front of the aircraft was totally destroyed on impact; the wings were still attached to the fuselage. The landing gear was in the retracted position. An examination of the engine revealed no discrepancies.
An autopsy was performed on the pilot-in-command, at the Brevard County Medical Examiner's Office, Rockledge, Florida, on October 7, 2002. According to the autopsy report the cause of death was "...Multiple blunt force injuries...." No significant pre-existing disease was noted on the autopsy.
Toxicological tests were conducted at the Federal Aviation Administration, Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and revealed, "No ethanol or drugs were detected. "