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On October 23, 2004, at 1750 eastern daylight time, N92871, a North American AT-6 airplane, registered to and operated by T-6, LLC, collided with the ground shortly after takeoff from runway 31 at a private turf airstrip in Leesville, South Carolina. The local flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91, and visual flight rules. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed. The commercial pilot and passenger were fatally injured and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The flight originated from a private turf airstrip in Leesville, South Carolina, on October 23, 2004, at 1747.
According to witnesses, the operator was offering airplane rides to citizens in the area as part of a community event sponsored by the operator. Witnesses stated that shortly after the airplane took off, during a climbing left turn, the engine sputtered several times before the airplane disappearing behind a tree line. Some witnesses and bystanders utilized a handheld transceiver tuned to the emergency frequency located the downed airplane wreckage. The accident site was approximately 1/4 statute mile from the departure end of runway 31.
A review of records on file with the Airmen Certification Branch, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the pilot was issued a commercial certificate on December 20, 2003, with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane single-engine sea, airplane multi-engine land, and instrument airplane. He also held a flight instructor certificate, with airplane single-engine rating and a private pilot certificate, with glider rating. He held a first class medical certificate issued July 6, 2004, with no restrictions. According to the pilot's logbooks, he had accumulated a total of 2,030 hours in all aircrafts, and a total of 304 hours in the T-6.
A review of aircraft and engine logs revealed the last annual inspection was performed on April 8, 2004. At the time of the accident, approximately 45 hours had been flown since the last inspection and the total airframe time was approximately 10,047 hours. The engine overhaul was completed on November 24, 1992 and installed in N92871 on February 1, 1993. At the time of the last annual inspection, approximately 673 hours had been flown since major overhaul.
At 1756, the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, West Columbia, South Carolina weather reporting facility, located 14 miles east of the accident site, reported winds from 040 degrees, magnetic, at five knots, visibility of 10 statute miles, few clouds at 5000 feet, temperature 18 degrees, Celsius, and dew-point 9 degrees, Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 30.06 inches of mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Post-accident examination of the wreckage revealed that the engine compartment was separated from the fuselage and the engine and the propeller assemblies were lodged slightly beneath ground level. The wing assembly separated from the fuselage, the right wing was crushed aft, and the horizontal stabilizer was crushed.
External examination of the engine revealed full intake and exhaust valve action, and compression and suction in all cylinders. Internal engine components rotated freely. Continuity of the crankshaft and gears were established through to the accessory section. The left magneto produced ignition sparks on all ignition leads when rotated; the right magneto crankshaft was bent, but produced intermittent sparks on ignition leads when rotated. The blower (supercharger) impeller rotated freely. The oil cooler was punctured, but retained some oil, and the oil filter was free of debris.
The examination of the fuel system revealed fuel present in the carburetor bowl, hand-driven fuel pump, engine-driven fuel pump, and carburetor fuel strainer. The fuel selector was observed in the reserve normal left tank position, fuel present in tank selected, and all ports were free of debris. Further examination of engine components revealed that sediment was in the carburetor bowl, hand-driven fuel pump, engine-driven fuel pump screen, and carburetor fuel strainer.
Further laboratory examination of the low fuel pressure warning light in the cockpit revealed that the filament within the bulb glass contained gross elongation of the filament coils and was heavily distorted, features consistent with receiving an impact while hot.
MEDICAL AND TOXICOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Lexington County Medical Examiner, Lexington, South Carolina, performed the autopsies of the pilot and passenger on October 24, 2004. The cause of death of the pilot was reported as "multiple traumatic injuries." The Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed postmortem toxicology of specimens of the pilot. The results were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, and drugs.
Fuel was tested from the refueling tank used to refuel the accident airplane, and other airplanes. No contamination or sediment was found during this examination nor did any other pilot report an airplane problem after refueling from this tank.