ATL04LA128
ATL04LA128

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On June 8, 2004, at 2018 eastern daylight time, an unregistered Grover J3 Kitten, experimental airplane, operated by a private owner, as a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, collided with the ground while maneuvering in the vicinity of Cooper's Field, Mohawk, Tennessee. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The airplane received substantial damage. The non-FAA certificated pilot was fatally injured. The flight originated at Cooper's Field, Mohawk, Tennessee, at 1945 on June 8, 2004.

The non certificated pilot departed Cooper's Field and the airplane was observed to climb between 500 to 700 feet. Witnesses observed the airplane in a hammerhead stall attitude in the vicinity of the airport. The airplane completed a hammerhead stall to the right when the witness heard a "flapping noise." The airplane appeared to recover from the maneuver and the airplane started a descending right turn. The witness observed about half the fabric covering the right wing had separated from the backside of the wing. A decrease in engine power was heard. The airplane stopped descending, leveled out at about 300 feet, and the airspeed decreased. The witnesses stated, "the right wing was observed to drop down, the nose pitched down as if the airplane was in a stall." The airplane collided with the ground in an open field in a nose down, right wing low attitude adjacent to Cooper's Field.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

Review of information on file with the FAA Airman's Certification Division, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the non certificated pilot applied for a student pilot and third class medical certificate on November 4, 1997. The application was reviewed by the Airman's Certification Division on December 8, 1997, February 4, 1998, April 19, 1999, May 19, 1998, October 2, 1998, and January 7, 1998. Additional information regarding the non certificated pilot's eligibility for medical certification was requested by the FAA. The information was not provided by the non certificated pilot. The student pilot's certificate and medical certificate was not issued. The non certificated pilot reported on the application for the third class medical certificate that he had accumulated 13 total flight hours. A friend of the non certificated pilot stated the non certificated pilot had flown 100 hours in the airplane, and did not hold an FAA certificate or rating.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

According to the previous owner of the J3 Kitten, the pilot purchased the ultra light kit plane on February 2, 2003. The previous owner stated he bought the aircraft in North Carolina, in 2000. The airplane was flown to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and kept in a hangar until it was sold to the pilot. The airplane did not come with an Operator's Manual or any log books. The previous owner did not know how much total time was on the Volkswagen engine or the airframe. He further stated the airplane was not registered with the FAA, because it was considered to be an ultra light, not an experimental airplane. A friend of the pilot who witnessed the accident stated the ribs in the right wing were broken after the non certificated pilot purchased the airplane. The friend and the non certificated pilot's sister stated the non certificated pilot had not repaired the damage due to lack of funds and that the pilot continued to fly the airplane. The previous owner spoke to the non certificated pilot on June 5, 2004, and asked him when he was going to get the wing fixed. The non certificated pilot stated, " Oh no, we did a stress test. If I fixed it I would have no time to fly."

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The closest weather reporting facility was Tri Cities Regional Airport, Blountville, Tennessee, located 40 miles northeast of the accident site. The surface weather observation at 1953 was, winds calm, visibility 5 miles, few clouds at 9,000, temperature 70-degrees Fahrenheit, dew point temperature 63-degrees Fahrenheit, and altimeter 30.14.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage of the airplane was located in a field adjacent to 6400 Fish Hatchery Road, and Cooper's Field, in the vicinity of Mohawk, Tennessee.

Examination of the wreckage revealed the airplane collided with the ground in a nose down attitude. The wood propeller assembly had fragmented and separated from the propeller hub. The engine assembly remained attached to the engine mounts. The engine was not disassembled based on eye witness accounts stating the engine was operating at the time of the accident. The Volkswagen engine assembly was removed from the airframe and transported to Tennessee Technology Center in Morristown, Tennessee, to be weighed. The Volkswagen engine weighed 90 pounds. The aircraft empty weight of the J3 Kitten with a Rotax 277 engine is published at 254 pounds. The Rotax 277 engine weighs 66 pounds. The Volkswagen engine exceeded the 254 pounds empty weight allowed by 14 CFR Part 103.1 by 24 pounds. The airplane was not registered with the FAA as required by 14 CFR Part 47.3.

The cabin area was compressed aft and the main fuel tank was ruptured. The left and right main landing gear were displaced aft. The flight control cables were intact from the control column aft to the left wing flight controls. The left wing was accelerated forward. The right wing was pushed aft. The control cables in the right wing had been separated by the recovery crew. The fabric on the right wing had separated from the trailing edge 3 feet outboard of the wing root and extended outboard 4 feet. The fabric was glued and not stitched. The outboard right wing tip was bent upward. The right wing forward spar was intact, and the rear spar had separated. All ribs in the right wing were separated. The empennage was bent to the right aft of the cabin area. No serial number or registration number was present on the airplane.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

No autopsy was performed. A death certificate was issued by Green County Department of Health, Greeneville, Tennessee, on June 16, 2004. The reported cause of death was "multiple blunt trauma." Postmortem toxicology of specimens was performed locally by the Department of Pharmacology, Quillen College of Medicine, Johnson City, Tennessee. The results were negative for ethanol, basic, acidic, and neutral drugs. Caffeine was present in the blood. No toxicology of specimens was performed by The Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

TEST AND RESEARCH

Review of 14 CFR Part 103.1 states for the purposes of this part, an ultra light vehicle is a vehicle that:...
"(1) Weigh less than 254 pounds empty weight, excluding floats and safety devices which are intended for deployment in a potentially catastrophic situation;...
(4) Has a power-off stall speed which does not exceed 24 knots calibrated airspeed."

Review of 14 CFR Part 47.3 states, "(b) No person may operate an aircraft that is eligible for registration under section 501 of the Aviation Act of 1958 unless the aircraft- -
(1) has been registered by its owner."

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The wreckage was released by the Greene County Sheriff's Department, Greeneville, Tennessee, on June 8, 2004 to the Malone Wrecker Service, Greeneville, Tennessee. The family of the non certificated pilot recovered the wreckage from Malone Wrecker Service on June 11, 2004.




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