On September 7, 2005, at 1625 eastern standard time, an amateur-built Hildebrant Rutan Defiant airplane, N219DF, piloted by a commercial pilot, was destroyed during a post accident ground fire after overrunning the departure end of runway 36 (2,160 feet by 150 feet, turf) at the Shawnee Field Airport, near Bloomfield, Indiana. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 without a flight plan. The pilot was fatally injured. The local area flight was originating at the time of the accident. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
Witnesses to the accident reported that the pilot performed a high-speed taxi on runway 36 prior to attempting a takeoff run. One witness reported that he advised the pilot "to use the grass before the threshold for max takeoff length." Witnesses reported that the airplane overran the end of the runway during a subsequent takeoff attempt. The airplane was found in a cornfield, north of the departure end of runway 36. Witnesses stated that the wreckage was found inverted and engulfed in flames. A witness reported that the pilot had evacuated himself from the wreckage and told him that he "couldn't get [the airplane] off the ground." The pilot suffered second and third degree burns over approximately 93 percent of his body. The pilot died as of result of his injuries on September 10, 2005.
The closest weather reporting station to the accident site was located at the Monroe County Airport (MBG), approximately 19 nautical miles east of the accident site. The airport was equipped with an Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS). The following weather conditions were recorded before and after the time of the accident:
At 1553: Wind 130 degrees true at 5 knots; visibility 10 statute miles (sm); broken clouds at 4,800 feet above ground level; temperature 28 degrees Celsius; dew point 17 degrees Celsius; altimeter setting 30.19 inches of mercury.
At 1653: Wind calm; visibility 10 sm; sky clear; temperature 28 degrees Celsius; dew point 17 degrees Celsius; altimeter setting 30.17 inches of mercury.
According to the Rutan Defiant owner's manual, the airplane was a heavy wing-loading aircraft that required longer runways than typical general-aviation twin engine airplanes. The owner's manual stated that takeoff/landing performance figures are for smooth, hard surface runways and should be used as a "basis for operational limits." The manual further cautioned that "each aircraft built may require different operational limitations as determined by their flight tests." Specific performance data for the accident airplane was not obtained during the accident investigation. Performance data for the accident flight was calculated using the owner's manual.
The minimum takeoff and landing ground rolls were calculated for gross weights of 2,500 and 3,000 lbs, using a density altitude of 2,000 feet. The takeoff ground rolls were 1,100 and 1,600 feet for gross weights of 2,500 and 3,000 lbs, respectively. The landing ground rolls were 1,250 feet and 1,700 feet for gross weights of 2,500 and 3,000 lbs, respectively.
Runway 36 consisted of 2-3 inch long grass, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector who performed the on-scene investigation. Takeoff and landing performance values were estimated for operations on grass runways by applying a factor of 1.2, in accordance with the Flight Test Guide for Certification of Part 23 Airplanes (FAA Publication, AC 23-8B).
Applying this factor, the resulting takeoff ground rolls were 1,320 and 1,920 feet for gross weights of 2,500 and 3,000 lbs, respectively. The resulting landing ground rolls were 1,500 feet and 2,040 feet for gross weights of 2,500 and 3,000 lbs, respectively.
Based on the previously determined ground roll data, the combined distance to accelerate to rotation speed and then stop was 2,820 feet and 3,960 feet for gross weights of 2,500 and 3,000 lbs, respectively.
Runway 36 (2,160 feet by 150 feet) had a 485 foot stopway after the departure threshold. A stopway is an area beyond the takeoff runway able to support the airplane during an aborted takeoff without causing structural damage to the airplane. The wreckage was found 222 feet past the end of the stopway and 2,867 feet from the beginning of runway 36.
The airplane had accumulated 821.5 hours since new, according to the maintenance logbooks. The last condition inspection was performed on December 28, 2004, and the airplane had accumulated 59.6 hours since the inspection. The accident airplane's empty and maximum gross weights were 1,950 and 3,450 lbs, respectively.
During August 2005, the airplane underwent maintenance to fix a fuel leak in the right wing. The maintenance logbook indicated the repairs were finalized on the day of the accident. The accident occurred during the first flight since the repairs.
The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with single-engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane ratings. FAA records show the pilot's last medical examination was completed on March 1, 2005, when he was issued a third-class medical certificate with no restrictions or limitations. The pilot reported that his total flight time was 3,347 hours and that he had flown 16 hours during the previous 6 months, on the March 2005 medical application. The pilot's previous medical examination was on July 23, 2002, and at that time he reported his total flight time was 3,300 hours and that he had flown no hours during the previous six months.
The pilot began flying the accident airplane during February 2005, according to the airplane's owner. The aircraft owner stated that the pilot did not have any experience in a Rutan Defiant prior to February 2005. The pilot had flown less than 50 hours as pilot-in-command in the accident airplane, according to the aircraft owner and maintenance logbooks. The pilot's flight logbooks were not obtained during the investigation.
The wreckage was examined by a FAA inspector and no discrepancies were noted that could be associated with any pre-impact condition or malfunction.