ATL04CA191
ATL04CA191

On September 22, 2004, at 1530 eastern daylight time, N2079S, a Pinkham, Challenger II, experimental homebuilt airplane, registered and operated by a private owner as a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, collided with trees during a, emergency landing following a partial loss of engine power near Lancaster, South Carolina. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The airplane received substantial damage. The commercial pilot reported serious injuries. The flight originated from Jaars Townsend Airfield, Waxhaw, North Carolina, on September 22, 2004, at 1500.

The pilot stated he was at the 2,000 feet, 3 miles north of Lancaster, South Carolina, when the engine had a partial loss of engine power. The engine rpm decreased to 3,800 rpm. The pilot turned on the auxiliary boost pump, the rpm increased, and decreased back to 3,800 rpm. The pilot pulled the choke out, the rpm increased, and decreased back to 3,800 rpm. The pilot stated, "I suspected fuel was not getting through the fuel line." The pilot stated he was 2 miles from the approach end of runway 15 at Lancaster, South Carolina, and loosing altitude. He knew he could not make the airport, he observed a small field to his left. and made a left turn for an emergency landing to the field. The pilot stated, 'I misjudged my altitude during the approach and the right wing collided with a tree. The airplane turned to the right, the nose pitched down, and the airplane collided with the ground." The pilot unlatched his seatbelt and shoulder harness and exited the airplane unassisted. Emergency personnel arrived at the crash site, and he was transported to the hospital.

Examination of the airplane revealed the airplane came to rest in a nose down attitude. The forward fuselage and cockpit area were crushed aft. The left and right wings, empennage, and engine assembly were intact with minor damage. The rear mounted engine and propeller assembly remained attached to the airframe and were not damaged. Valve and drive train continuity was confirmed by rotating the propeller by hand. Compression and suction was present on all cylinders. All ignition components were intact and no deficiencies were noted with the spark plugs.

The fuel system was examined. The main 10-gallon fuel tank was not ruptured. Water was present in the fuel filter and fuel supply line going from the fuel tank to the engine. The fuel tank had a 5/16 inch hole drilled in the top of the main fuel tank covered by a piece of tape that was no longer sealing the hole. The tank contained 8 gallons of dark greenish looking fuel. "The fuel appeared to be a mixture of auto gas and avgas." The main fuel tank was removed and drained. Water was present in the fuel tank. The fuel tank had a low point bowl molded into it for water collection, however, there was no drain installed in order to sump the fuel tank. An examination of the kit instructions for the airplane showed the drawings indicated that a fuel sump drain was to be installed in the low point of the main fuel tank. The pilot and manufacturer stated he did not want to cut a hole in the bottom of the fuselage in the fabric to accommodate a drain.

The aircraft special airworthiness certificate, operating limitations, and registration certificate were not located in the aircraft. Review of the aircraft maintenance records revealed the airplane was certificated on May 27, 2003. The aircraft had no record of a condition inspection since the certification. The engine and airframe had accumulated 13 total hours.

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