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On November 6, 2004, at 1634 mountain standard time, a Taylorcraft BC12-D, N39971, sustained a loss of engine power followed by a loss of control during a forced landing approach to a farm field in Wasta, South Dakota. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions without a flight plan. The flight originated from the pilot's private airstrip 30 to 45 minutes prior to the accident.
The pilot's wife stated she helped her husband fuel and preflight the airplane prior to him departing on the local flight.
The pilot's son reported seeing the airplane's wing "wobble" when it was at an altitude of about 300 feet above the ground. The airplane then descended to impact with the terrain. He stated he was in a vehicle at the time and was unable to tell if the engine was operating.
The pilot held a student pilot/third class medical certificate which was issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on October 19, 2003. The certificate contained the limitation "Must wear lenses for distant, have glasses for near vision." The pilot reported having 35 hours of flight time on the application for this medical certificate.
The pilot had previously held a student pilot/third class medical certificate which was issued on July 9, 2001. The pilot reported having 10 hours of flight time on the application for this medical certificate.
The pilot's family stated they were unable to locate the pilot's logbook. The certified flight instructor (CFI) who provided instruction to the pilot stated he last flew with the pilot on October 9, 2002. The pilot's family was unaware of the pilot having received any flight instruction after this date.
The airplane was a 1945 Taylorcraft BC12-D, serial number 6630. FAA records show the aircraft registration was issued to the pilot/owner on August 8, 2001. The airplane was a tail wheel, two-place, side-by-side, normal category airplane. The airframe consisted of a fabric covered steel tube and wood structure. The airplane was powered by a Continental engine model C-65, serial number 3525258.
The pilot kept the airplane on his farm. The mechanic who maintained the airplane reported the last annual inspection was accomplished in October 2003. Aircraft and engine logbooks were not located during the investigation. The airplane was not equipped with a recording tachometer or a Hobbs meter, therefore, total aircraft time could not be determined.
The airplane was not equipped with an electrical system, therefore, there were no cockpit or external aircraft lights.
The closest weather reporting station was located at Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP), Rapid City, South Dakota, 22 miles west of the accident site. The RAP weather recorded at 1635 was: Wind - 350 degrees at 10 knots; Visibility - 10 statute miles; Sky Condition - Clear; Temperature - 13 degrees Celsius; Dew Point - minus 5 degrees Celsius; Altimeter Setting - 29.96 inches of Mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The FAA conducted an on-scene examination. The airplane came to rest on top of a ravine in an open field located approximately one-half to three-quarters of a mile from the pilot's farm.
The initial impact point consisted of three ground scars along with broken wood and windscreen material. Two of the impact marks were the same distance apart as the left and right main landing gear. The third impact mark was in front of and in between the other two. The main wreckage was located a few feet away from the initial impact marks.
The engine was pushed up and rearward into the cockpit. One wooden propeller blade was shattered and the other blade was intact. The instrument panel was pushed rearward into the cockpit. Both wings were crushed rearward with the right wing crushed considerably more than the left wing. The right wing was slit open in a chord wise direction just outboard of the wing strut attach point. The empennage was bent to the right, just aft of the cockpit. The elevator and rudder were not damaged. Flight control continuity was established from the control surfaces to the cockpit.
Inspection of the cockpit revealed: The mixture control was in; the primer was in and locked; the throttle was broken off; the magnetos were on both; and push-pull type fuel shutoff valve was pulled out to the off position. The fuel shutoff valve was bent upward and formed around the instrument panel. The fuel shutoff valve safety guard was present, but it was bent so that it did not cover the valve lever. The carburetor heat control was in.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was conducted on the pilot at the Rapid City Regional Hospital on November 9, 2004.
A Final Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report listed the following findings:
Pseudoephedrine detected in blood
Pseudoephedrine detected in Urine
Pseudoephedrine detected in liver
0.038 (ug/ml, ug/g) Chlorpheniramine detected in blood
Chlorpheniramine detected in urine
Chlorpheniramine detected in liver
Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant often known by the trade name Sudafed and found in many multi-symptom over-the-counter preparations.
Chlorpheniramine is a sedating antihistamine which is often found in combination with Pseudoephedrine in over-the-counter allergy and cold medications.
Airworthiness Directive (AD) 51-09-03 applied to N39971. The AD stated that a safety device must be installed on the fuel shutoff valve to prevent inadvertent operation of the valve while in flight. The mechanic who maintained the airplane stated that he installed the device when he performed the annual inspection on N39971 in 2002. This was the first annual inspection after the pilot purchased the airplane.
According to the U.S. Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department, the official sunset in Rapid City, South Dakota, on the day of the accident occurred at 1636.
The aircraft engine was torn down after the accident. The teardown inspection revealed the accessory section, magnetos, oil sump, ignition harness, and exhaust had sustained impact damage. The induction manifold and carburetor were broken free from the engine. The number one and number three cylinders sustained impact damage. The cylinder head was cracked between the number three cylinder valve ports.
The oil inside the engine was dark in color. The oil sump, pickup screen, and system screen were free of metal debris. Compression was achieved on the number one and number two cylinders when the engine was turned by hand. The number three cylinder would not hold compression due to the crack in the cylinder head. Compression could not the achieved on the number four cylinder. The cylinders were removed. The cylinder walls were pitted and moderate deposits were present in the combustion chambers. A shiny screw was found lodged between the intake valve and its seat of the number four cylinder. The screw had entered the cylinder and became lodged under the valve during the engine teardown. No discrepancies were noted with the engine that would have prevented the engine from producing power.
The FAA and Teledyne Continental Motors were parties to the investigation.