HISTORY OF FLIGHT Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
On April 4, 2004, at 1930 central daylight time, a Christen A-1, N9599B, was destroyed by ground impact and post-impact fire while maneuvering at low altitude after takeoff. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was departing from a grass field near Curtis, Nebraska, on a local flight. The pilot was fatally injured and the passenger received serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was filed.
The pilot had flown the airplane from Wallace, Nebraska, to the grass field earlier in the day to attend a family gathering. The passenger who survived the accident reported that the flight was the final flight of the day, and that the pilot intended to fly back to Wallace, Nebraska. The passenger recalled the takeoff but did not remember any details concerning the accident.
A witness reported that he watched and heard the pilot start the airplane and conduct a magneto and propeller check. He saw the airplane taxi out and start its takeoff roll to the south. The witness reported, "He came out from behind the shop and was airborne, pulling the plane up into a steep angle of climb. When he was well above the power lines and parallel to the road, the plane stopped climbing and he kicked the tail around and attempted a hammerhead stall. The wind hit the belly and underside of the wings of the plane and he did not have enough altitude to recover and hit the ground. On impact the right landing gear tore off and the plane skidded around on its nose and left gear. It came to rest tail up, right side down."
The witness reported that he and others were able to remove the passenger from the airplane, but they were not able to rescue the pilot before the fuselage was engulfed in flames.
The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with a single-engine airplane land rating. The commercial certificate had the following limitation: "Carrying passengers in airplanes for hire is prohibited at night and on cross-country flights of more than 50 miles." The pilot held a Second Class medical certificate. He had approximately 2,705 total flight hours with 20 hours in make and model. The pilot had experience as a Part 137 agricultural aerial spray pilot.
The airplane was a single-engine Christen A-1, serial number 1105. The airplane seated two and had a maximum gross weight of 1,880 pounds. It was equipped with a 180 horsepower Lycoming O-360-C1G engine. The last annual inspection of the airplane was conducted on July 6, 2003. The airplane had flown 39 hours since the last annual inspection. The airplane had flown a total of 592 hours.
At 1853, the observed weather at the North Platte Regional Airport, North Platte, Nebraska, located about 33 nautical miles north of Curtis, Nebraska, was: Wind 170 degrees at 16 knots, sky clear, temperature 18 degrees C, dew point 0 degrees C, altimeter 29.96 inches of mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane impacted the terrain in a stubble cornfield across the gravel road adjoining the grass field from which the airplane departed. The wreckage path was approximately 112 feet on length from the initial point of impact to where the main wreckage came to rest. The wreckage path was on a northerly heading. Fire consumed the airplane except for the empennage and the outboard 2/3 of the left wing. One of the propeller blade tips was melted.
A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airworthiness inspector examined the wreckage at the accident site. The inspection of the flight controls revealed that the rudder cables exhibited continuity from the control surface to the cabin's rear seat. The front rudder pedals were jammed against the firewall and floorboard. The cables to the elevator were attached to the control surface but continuity could not be established due to impact damage. The left aileron control cables exhibited continuity from the control surface to the flight controls. The right aileron cable was broken. The carburetor was separated from the engine and found lying under the left wing. The throttle plate was found in the open position.
The FAA airworthiness inspector reported that she had conducted a telephone interview with a witness who observed the accident. The inspector reported that the witness stated that "the nose was starting to come up when the plane hit the ground right wing low and broke off the right landing gear." The witness also stated, "He did not hear the power change from takeoff until the plane hit the ground."
The Federal Aviation Administration was a party to the investigation.