HISTORY OF THE FLIGHT Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
On May 15, 2006, at an undetermined time after 0900 Pacific daylight time, an experimental Schlitter Rans S-18 Stinger, N24052, collided with terrain approximately 1,000 feet from runway 8 at the Brian Ranch Airport, Llano, California. The airplane was being operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The pilot, who did not hold a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued pilot certificate, sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was destroyed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The pilot departed from the Brian Ranch Airport sometime after 0900.
Interviews with the airport owners determined that a family member reported the pilot overdue at 1600. He had planned to perform touch-and-go takeoffs and landings prior to operating the airplane in the local area. The airport owners further reported that at 1600, a local pilot conducted an unsuccessful aerial search for the missing airplane. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office was notified and an additional aerial search of the airport area was conducted. During this time, the airport owners contacted a local FAA air traffic control facility to report the missing airplane. The Air Force Rescue and Coordination Center (AFRCC) issued an Alert Notice (ALNOT) at 2152. The wreckage was located on May 16, 2006, about 0800.
The airport manager said that the pilot purchased the airplane about 3 months prior to the accident and it was based at Brian Ranch. On the day of the accident, weather conditions were reported as clear skies and light wind.
The pilot did not hold any FAA issued pilot certificates. Using the pilot's name, social security number, and birth date, a review of the pilot records by the FAA Airman Records branch in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, did not generate any pilot records. A review of airman medical records by the FAA Medical Records branch was also unsuccessful in locating any medical records for the pilot.
According to the pilot's wife, the pilot had owned many airplanes over the years and he had accrued over 1,000 hours of flight time. He stopped flying due to his diabetes and inability to get an aviation medical certificate.
The pilot completed about five flights in the accident airplane prior to the accident.
The previous owner of the airplane was contacted regarding the sale of the airplane. He stated that the sale of the airplane was finalized about 1 month prior to the accident. They did not use the FAA approved form for the bill of sale but created one of their own. Following the sale, the accident pilot was going to register the airplane with the FAA. The airplane was still registered with the FAA under the previous owner's name.
The previous owner did not fly with the pilot, and he had heard that he was trying to fly again using the sport pilot rules. The pilot told the previous owner that his application for an aviation medical certificate had been denied.
The airplane engine was powered using auto fuel. The previous owner put 10 hours on the airplane over the past 3 years and did not experience any mechanical problems with the airplane. At the time of the sale, the airplane had accrued 126 hours of operation. According to the previous owner, the pilot had all of the maintenance logbooks for the airplane.
No maintenance logbooks were recovered for the airplane. The National Transportation Safety Board investigator contacted the Rans Company and an exemplar weight and balance form was obtained. Using the arm moments and estimated weights for the right main gear, left main gear, and tail, and the weight of the airplane at 550 pounds, the arm was calculated to be 93 inches. Using this data and information obtained by the FAA inspector on scene, the total weight of the airplane was calculated to be 957 pounds with a center of gravity of 73.6 inches aft of the datum. The gross weight of the airplane is 1,100 pounds and the center of gravity limits are from 72.85 inches to 77.90 inches aft of the datum.
According to the airplane kit supplier, there are no published performance charts for the airplane due to the variability among builders and design.
The Palmdale aviation routine weather observation (METAR) for 0953 recorded the following: wind 290 degrees at 6 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition clear; temperature 79 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 42 degrees Fahrenheit; and altimeter setting 29.97 inches of Mercury. Palmdale is located about 17 nautical miles southeast of Llano.
Using a Safety Board computer program and the aforementioned weather information, the density altitude was calculated to be 5,233 feet mean sea level at the time of the accident.
The Los Angeles County Coroner performed an autopsy on the pilot. The cause of death was attributed to multiple blunt force injuries. The FAA Forensic Toxicology laboratory performed toxicological testing. The results were positive for the following:
115 (mg/dL, mg/hg) ETHANOL detected in Urine
51 (mg/dL, mg/hg) ETHANOL detected in Spinal Fluid
65 (mg/dL, mg/hg) ETHANOL detected in Muscle
25 (mg/dL, mg/hg) ETHANOL detected in Brain
12 (mg/dL, mg/hg) N-PROPANOL detected in Urine
3 (mg/dL, mg/hg) N-PROPANOL detected in Spinal Fluid
4 (mg/dL, mg/hg) N-PROPANOL detected in Muscle
1 (mg/dL, mg/hg) N-BUTANOL detected in Urine
OMEPRAZOLE present in Urine
147.1 (ug/ml, ug/g) SALICYLATE detected in Urine
EPHEDRINE detected in Urine
PSEUDOEPHEDRINE detected in Urine
4,900 (mg/dl) GLUCOSE detected in Urine
0.94 (pmol/nmol) SEROTONIN METABOLITE RATIO detected in Urine
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The FAA accident coordinator responded to the accident site on May 16. The wreckage was located about 1,000 feet from runway 8 and came to rest inverted. The initial impact point was approximately 10 feet from the final resting point of the wreckage. The wings were attached to the fuselage and were symmetrically damaged. The composite propeller blades were reduced to slivers. All control surfaces remained attached to the airplane. The elevator trim tab was in the full nose up position.
Following the recovery of the airplane, the accident coordinator examined and weighed it. The coordinator was able to obtain control continuity and noted rotation of the engine crankshaft when the propeller was manually turned by hand.
According to the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (AC 61-23C), "The forward center of gravity limit is often established at a location which is determined by the landing characteristics of the airplane. It may be possible to maintain stable and safe cruising flight if the CG is located ahead of the prescribed forward limit; but during landing, which is one of the most critical phases of flight, exceeding the forward CG limit may cause problems. Manufacturers purposely place the forward CG limit as far rearward as possible to aid pilots in avoiding damage to the airplane when landing."
In addition, AC 61-23C states, "A restricted forward center of gravity limit is also specified to assure that sufficient elevator deflection is available at minimum airspeed. When structural limitations or large stick forces do not limit the forward CG position, it is located at the position where full-up elevator is required to obtain a high angle of attack for landing."