ATL04LA111
ATL04LA111

On May 6, 2004, at 1833 eastern daylight time, a Riggs Skyraider homebuilt experimental airplane, N321TR, registered to and operated by a private pilot, collided with the ground while turning base to final at a private airstrip in Blounts Creek, North Carolina. The personal flight was operated under the provision of Title 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The airplane was substantially damaged. The pilot was fatally injured. The flight originated from the same private airstrip in Blounts Creek, North Carolina, on May 6, 2004 at 1832.

The circumstances and purpose of the flight are unknown. If the pilot completed a preflight inspection of the airplane and fuel system before takeoff are also unknown. However, according to a witness, the airplane was on a base to final for the grass strip runway when the left wing dipped and the airplane went straight into the ground. The airplane came to rest in a field with a nose down attitude, 100 yards northwest of the runway. Based on the GPS track data recovered from the airplane, the flight duration was one minute and twenty seconds.

Examination of the wreckage site found the airplane in the immediate area, approximately 35 degrees in a nose down attitude. The engine was buried several inches into the ground and displaced aft into the cockpit area. Examination of the airplane revealed the fuselage was buckled, the empennage was deflected towards the right side, both wings had leading edge crush damage, the left wing ribs were broken and the right main wheel was separated. The examination also revealed that there was six pounds of lead weight added to the tail section at the bottom of the horizontal stabilizer and there were no problems found with the flight controls.

The engine was equipped with two carburetors. One carburetor was separated from the engine, and the other carburetor remained with the engine assembly. The examination of the carburetor that remained with the engine disclosed a small amount of corrosion in the bowl. Examination of the carburetor that was found separated from the engine disclosed a small amount of fuel and water in the bowl. There were two inline fuel filters installed in the fuel system, one filter for each carburetor. The examination of the filters also disclosed an undetermined amount of water. The only fuel drain installed in the fuel system was installed on the bottom of the header tank. When the drain assembly was removed from the header tank, four ounces of water were recovered from the header tank. The left wing tank had no drain assembly installed but about 12 ounces of water were recovered from that tank. The right fuel tank had been separated from the airframe and was empty.

The Medical Examiner at Pitt County Memorial Hospital, Greenville, North Carolina conducted the autopsy of the pilot on May 8, 2004. The reported cause of death was "multiple injuries due to aircraft crash". The Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report by the Federal Aviation Administration in Okalahoma City, Okalahoma detailed the results of the postmortem toxicology of specimens from the pilot. The report revealed that diphenhydramine was present in urine but not detected in blood. No carbon monoxide or cyanide was detected in blood and no ethanol was detected in urine.

A review of the pilot's flight log disclosed that he had accumulated a total of 485 hours and had flown 5 hours in the Riggs Skyraider I. The pilot was issued a private pilot flight certificate for single engine land airplanes on March 28, 1973. The pilot's last third class medical certificate was issued on May 29, 2002, no limitations were listed on the certificate.

The airplane was issued a special airworthiness certificate dated November 22, 2003.

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