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On February 5, 2005, at approximately 0907 eastern standard time, a Ramsey RV-8A, N44RX, collided with a tree and a frozen pond while maneuvering near the Fulton County Airport (RCR), Rochester, Indiana. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was operating in instrument meteorological conditions without a flight plan. The flight originated from the Sky King Airport (3I3), Terre Haute, Indiana, at approximately 0730.
According to RCR airport personnel, at 0850, the pilot of N44RX announced over the RCR universal communications frequency (Unicom) that he was 6 miles southwest of the airport inbound for landing. At 0905, the pilot announced over the Unicom frequency that he was circling near the airport waiting for the fog to lift. There were no other transmissions heard from the airplane, nor did the person monitoring the Unicom make any transmissions to the airplane.
The wreckage was located by a passerby. Local authorities received notification of the accident at 1111.
An acquaintance of the pilot stated that the pilot was flying to RCR to meet him for breakfast at the airport and to fly later in the day. The acquaintance stated that when he woke up that morning, the weather was "some of the worst flying weather" that he had seen with the visibility being about 100 feet. He stated that he did not have a telephone number to contact the pilot, so he drove to the airport to have breakfast anyway. He stated he assumed the pilot would either not make the trip or that he would wait for the weather to improve. He stated there was no urgency for the pilot to get to RCR to meet with him. He later found out that the pilot had called his house about a half hour after he left for the airport.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single-engine land airplane rating, issued May 17, 2003. He was issued a third-class medical certificate on June 3, 2003. The medical certificate did not contain any limitations or restrictions.
The pilot also held a Repairman Experimental Aircraft Builder certificate which was issued on March 8, 2004. The limitation on this certificate was "Inspection certificate for experimental aircraft make Ramsey, model RV-8A, serial number 81127, certificate date 26 Feb 2002."
Two pilot logbooks were forwarded to the National Transportation Safety Board by the pilot's family. The last entry in the second book was dated October 17, 2004, at which time the pilot had logged a total of 219.7 hours of flight time. Of this time, 84.8 hours were logged in an RV-8A.
The accident airplane was a Ramsey RV-8A, serial number 81127. It was a low-wing, amateur built, experimental airplane. A Special Airworthiness Certificate was issued for N44RX on February 26, 2002.
The accident pilot was also the builder of N44RX. The airplane logbook showed that the first flight for the airplane was on February 28, 2002. The last entry in the aircraft logbook was dated August 6, 2003, and the time in service was listed as being 95 hours. This entry noted, "100 hr inspection/safety check all systems normal (oil change/filter)."
The airplane was powered by a Lycoming O-320-D1A engine, serial number L-18796-39A. The last entry in the engine logbook was dated October 11, 2004, and the time in service was listed as 229 hours. This entry noted, "change oil/filter."
At the time of the accident the airplane hobbs meter read 257 hours.
The airport manager at RCR stated that at the time of the accident the local visibility was approximately 400 feet.
The closest weather reporting facility was located at Warsaw Municipal Airport (ASW), Warsaw, Indiana, 23 statue miles northeast of RCR. The ASW weather at 0905 was recorded as: calm winds; 1/4 mile visibility with freezing fog; 100 feet overcast; temperature minus 4 degrees Celsius; dew point minus 6 degrees Celsius; and altimeter 30.04 inches of mercury.
The weather recorded at Grissom AFB, located 29 statute miles south of RCR, at 0855, was reported as: winds 120 degrees at 3 knots; 1/8 mile visibility with freezing fog; sky condition clear; temperature minus 2 degrees Celsius; dew point minus 2 degrees Celsius; and altimeter setting 30.40 inches of mercury.
The weather conditions at the Terre Haute International Airport (HUF), Terre Haute, Indiana, which is located 8 statue miles south-southeast of 3I3, the pilot's departure airport, recorded the weather at 0753 as: wind 130 at 3 knots; 1/2 mile visibility with freezing fog; vertical visibility 100 feet; temperature minus 2 degrees Celsius; dew point minus 3 degrees Celsius; and altimeter setting 30.40 inches of mercury.
The HUF weather recorded at 0814 was wind 130 degrees at 4 knots; 3/4 mile visibility with mist; sky condition clear; temperature minus 2 degrees Celsius; dew point minus 2 degrees Celsius; and altimeter setting 30.39 inches of mercury.
A witness, who was a certified flight instructor, reported hearing N44RX when it was taking off at 3I3. He stated it was about 0730 when he heard the airplane. He stated he was unable to see the tree line which was about one-half mile away from his location on the airport. He stated the vertical visibility was good, but the horizontal visibility was poor due to a low layer of ground fog.
No record was found of the pilot having received a preflight weather briefing.
The initial impact was with trees that surrounded the frozen pond located approximately 1/2 mile southeast of RCR near the intersection of CR 400E and SR 14. The trees that were contacted were on the north edge of the pond. The airplane continued to the south and came to rest on the frozen pond.
The wreckage broke through an 8 to 10 inch layer of ice which covered the pond. The nose of the airplane was submerged in 4 feet of water with the tail of the airplane in a vertical attitude.
Both wings were separated from the fuselage at the wing root and were located on the frozen pond in the vicinity of the main wreckage. The right wing contained two semi-circular indentations on the leading edge of the wing. One indentation was near the wing root and the other was near the tip. The aileron and flap remained attached to the separated right wing. The left wing was crushed and split in half. The aileron remained attached at the outboard fitting and the flap remained attached to the inboard section of the wing.
The nose of the airplane sustained substantial impact damage and the empennage section of the airplane was intact. Flight control continuity was established.
The propeller remained attached to the engine. Both propeller blades were bent rearward and they contained corkscrew bends near the blade tips.
A first responder to the accident site reported that a faint odor of fuel was present. The owner of the salvage company who removed the wreckage stated there was a strong odor of fuel when the wings were moved during the recovery process. A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector who examined the wreckage stated there was fuel present in the carburetor and engine continuity was established.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy of the pilot was performed by the Fulton County Coroner's Office on February 6, 2005.
A Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report was prepared by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The results of all tests performed were negative.
A party to the investigation was the FAA.