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On August 6, 2005, approximately 1650 central daylight time (CDT), a vintage Globe GC-1B single-engine airplane, N3209K, was substantially damaged when it impacted the ground following a loss of control while maneuvering near Cypress, Texas. The private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filled for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The local flight originated from the Dry Creek Airport (TS07), a private airstrip 25 miles northwest of downtown Houston, Texas, approximately 1632.
Several witnesses, who were traveling along U.S. Highway 290, reported to authorities that they observed the airplane in a vertical or diving attitude, but did not see the airplane actually impact the ground. Another witness heard and observed the airplane from his house across the highway, and provided a similar description of the mishap, stating that the airplane was spiraling out of control.
The pilot was not in contact with Air Traffic Control (ATC); however, the Houston Intercontinental Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON), near Houston, Texas, recorded part of the airplane's flight before images were lost at 16:48:28 CDT, approximately 1,900 feet mean sea level (MSL). No radio transmissions or distress calls were received from the airplane.
The 42-year old pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land rating. The pilot also held an aircraft mechanic certificate with airframe and powerplant ratings, including inspection authorization.
The pilot's most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate was issued on January 29, 2004, with no limitations or waivers stated. A review of the pilot's logbook indicated that he had accumulated 639 hours total flight time, of which 120 hours was in the Globe GC-1B airplane.
The low-wing 1946-model, serial number 1202, was a tailwheel-equipped airplane with retractable main gear, and was configured to carry a maximum of two occupants. At the time of the accident, the airplane maintenance records indicated airframe total time (TT) of 2,620.8 hours, with time since last inspection (TSLI) of 109.4 hours, engine total time 3,669.21 hours, and time since major overhaul (TSMOH) of 751.61 hours.
On August 7, 2004, the pilot installed a six-cylinder Continental IO-360-DB engine, rated at 210 horsepower, serial number 5545-5-D, on N3209K per supplemental type certificate (STC) SA53NW. This installation included a new McCauley constant speed propeller (model 2A34C209-C), with two (model 78CCA) blades, that were installed on the engine per STC SA00185BO on July 14, 2004. On this date, the engine TT was 3,559.81 hours, with TSMOH of 642.21 hours.
Additionally, on August 7, 2004, the pilot installed a J.P. Instruments (JPI) engine data management system (EDM-700) per STC SA2586NM, which included cylinder head temperature (CHT) and exhaust gas temperature (EGT) for each cylinder, oil temperature, fuel flow rate, and fuel used.
On August 14, 2004, the airplane was weighed by the pilot and indicated a scale reading of 1,487.5 pounds. The most recent weight and balance prepared by the owner on January 11, 2005, (updated for starter exchange) reported the empty weight of the airplane to be 1,458 pounds, with a center of gravity of 28.70 inches and moment of 41,862.99 (including full engine oil). The gross weight of the airplane had been increased to 1,970 pounds per STC SA389NW on June 21, 2004, by FAA Form 337 dated August 23, 2004.
The last entry in the logbook was made on June 25, 2005, at an engine TT of 3,642.51 hours and TSMOH 724.51 hours. The pilot stated in the entry: "Drained oil, removed screen, and oil filter. Cut apart oil filter, no metal found in filter or screen. Sent sample of engine oil for analysis. See report attached. Replaced oil filter P/N: CH48108-1 and filled crankcase with 20/50 XC [oil]. Washed cowling and inspected engine for leaks."
Another statement, which had not yet be recorded in the maintenance logbook, noted: On June 29, 2005, Precision Static Testing, Livermore, California, "removed Kollsman airspeed indicator and installed a United Instruments 8000 airspeed indicator S/N: 181179. Performed tests as per appendix E of Part 43 of static system following installation. No defects found."
The examination of the maintenance records for the airplane did not reveal any unresolved maintenance discrepancies prior to its last flight.
At 1653, the automated surface observing system at the David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport (DWH), located about 13 miles northeast of the accident site, reported wind from 350 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear skies, temperature 32 degrees Celsius, dew point 21 degrees Celsius, and barometric pressure of 29.97 inches of Mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The wreckage was examined at the accident site on August 7, 2005. The wreckage was found in an uncultivated rice field approximately 2.5 miles on a 250 degree heading from the Dry Creek Airport, where the airplane was based. The Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates recorded at the accident site, using a hand-held unit were: latitude 29 degrees 58.35 minutes North, longitude 95 degrees 43.32 minutes West. The airplane impacted soft grassy terrain in a slightly nose-down attitude, left wing low position on a measured magnetic heading of 173 degrees. The fuselage aft of the cockpit along a line with the trailing edge of the wings was torn open and displaced to the left side.
The landing gear and flaps were found in the retracted position. The right flap actuating rod was bowed in compression. There was no trailing edge damage to either flap. The cockpit elevator trim switch was found in a neutral position. The landing gear and flap selectors were found in the retracted position. The fuel pump was found selected to the "high" position. The engine tachometer was found reading 2,800 RPM. The clock was found reading 4:44:41. The pitot heat switch was found in the "up" position. The throttle, propeller lever, and mixture control were found in the full forward position. The magneto switch was found selected to the "both" position.
There was no wreckage energy path surrounding the airplane, and no evidence of fire damage was found within the wreckage. The airplane came to rest less than one foot from the initial impact location, with approximately two inches of fuel in the right wing tank. Ground scars approximately 18 inches long and 2 inches deep, including a shallow crater, were found directly in front of the propeller spinner. Emergency first responders reported that the airplane's canopy was still latched and had to be cut to gain access to the occupants.
All components of the airplane including the flight controls were found attached to the fuselage, with the left wing partially separated and rotated aft from the fuselage attach point. The airplane was equipped with shoulder harnesses for both occupants; however, the attach points were broken loose from the frame. One propeller blade was found separated from the hub.
The wreckage was recovered on August 9, 2005, to Air Salvage of Dallas (ASOD), near Lancaster, Texas, for further examination.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLIGCAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed by the Harris County Medical Examiners Office, Houston, Texas, on August 8, 2005.
Toxicological testing on the pilot was performed by the FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) Forensic Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicological tests were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and drugs.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
On August 10, 2005, at the facilities of ASOD, the wreckage was examined by a representative from Teledyne Continental Motors and the NTSB's investigator-in-charge (IIC).
The engine, including the oil sump and exhaust pipes was crushed upward and outward. The mixture control and the propeller governor were still hooked up and in the full aft position. Both magnetos and the starter were separated. The throttle control was hooked up and found in the mid-range position. The top spark plugs and the valve covers were removed and the crankshaft was rotated. Continuity was confirmed to all cylinders and to the rear of the engine. Hand compression was confirmed on all cylinders.
The cylinders were borescoped and all of the valves were in place and exhibited normal operating signatures. Both magnetos sparked at all terminals when hand rotated. The spark plugs had normal wear. The fuel nozzles were clear and clean. The fuel manifold was not damaged, with the safety wire and lead seal in place. The diaphragm and spring were not damaged, and the fuel screen was clean. Fuel was observed in the interior of the unit. The oil filter was opened and the element was clean.
The propeller remained attached to the hub, with the spinner being crushed. Blade one ( S/N- XL26129) was separated and twisted toward the direction of rotation, with tearing on the trailing edge at the center. Blade two (S/N-XL26128) was loose at the hub, and twisted slightly toward the direction of rotation.
The EDM-700 engine monitoring system with fuel flow rate that was installed (S/N 19659) (P/N EGT-701-16C) was removed and sent to the manufacturer J.P. Instruments, Costa Mesa, California, for recorder readout on August 10, 2005.
On August 23, 2005, JPI downloaded data for the NTSB from the EDM-700 engine management system. The last 14 flights consisting of 17.38 hours were examined for anomalies and trend analysis. The last flight on August 6, 2005, indicated 0.26 hours, with a six-second recording interval beginning at 21:28:20 and ending at 21:43:50 (the EDM long term data memory contains a real-time clock). Recorded parameters were consistent with normal start , climb, and initial cruise. At 21:42:14, EGT, CHT, and FF decreased. At 21:42:44, these parameters increased again. At 21:43:36, they decreased again, until the last recorded time interval of 21:43:50.
No maintenance trends or discrepancies concerning the engine were noted.
The flight characteristics of Swift model GS-1B issued from Texas Engineering and Manufacturing Company (TEMCO) dated July 18, 1949, stated "Airplane is placarded against intentional spins - not because of structural strength, but due to spin characteristics. A two turn spin can be accomplished satisfactorily with 1 1/2 turns to recover by using opposite ailerons and full forward stick. Above this point, speed of turns builds up and airplane has tendency to flatten out. Six turn spins will require approximately four turns to recover by using opposite controls and intermittent throttle blast."
The wreckage was released to the owner's representative on October 20, 2005.