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On August 25, 2006, approximately 1600 central daylight time, a Scheibe Flugzeugbau SF-24A Motorspatz motor glider, N41FA, piloted by a commercial pilot, was destroyed when it impacted terrain at the Colonel James Jabara Airport (AAO), Wichita, Kansas. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 without a flight plan. The pilot was fatally injured. The local flight was originating at the time of the accident.
According to multiple witnesses at the airport, the motor glider was departing from runway 18 (6,101 feet by 100 feet, grooved concrete). The witnesses reported that the motor glider obtained an altitude between 40 and 60 feet above the ground when it initiated a slight left turn. Several witnesses stated that it appeared as if the glider was having difficulty climbing. The motor glider then "spiraled" or "spun" down to the ground, impacting in a near vertical attitude. The motor glider impacted the ground to the south and east of the departure end of the runway.
The pilot, age 55, held a commercial pilot certificate with a glider aero tow rating, issued on May 28, 1988. In addition, he held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating and flight instructor certificate for gliders. The pilot was issued a third class airman medical certificate issued on September 13, 2005. The certificate contained the limitations "must wear corrective lenses" and "not valid for any class after September 30, 2006."
According to a local designated examiner, the pilot successfully completed the requirements of a Glider Flight Instructor Practical Test on April 23, 2005, for the renewal of the certificate. This was not documented in the pilot's logbook. A copy of the pilots flight logbook was provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to the National Transportation Safety Board Investigator-In-Charge for review. The most recent entry in the logbook was dated September 18, 2005. No totals had been carried over within the logbook and an accurate measurement of the pilot's flight experience could not be established. The logbook did not reflect any logged time or experience in the accident glider.
The accident motor glider, a Scheibe Flugzeugbau SF-24A Motorspatz (serial number 4021), was manufactured in 1962. It was registered with the FAA on a special airworthiness certificate for experimental operations. The motor glider was equipped with an Evinrude engine rated for 85 horsepower. The engine was equipped with a 2-blade propeller.
The motor glider was registered to and operated by the pilot on March 24,2004. It was maintained under a condition inspection program. A review of the maintenance records indicated that a condition inspection had been completed on March 3, 2006, at an airframe total time of 298 hours. According to several individuals who spoke with the pilot prior to the accident, he was not happy with the performance of his engine and intended on changing it out over the winter. He also reported that his "airspeed system" was not working.
The closest official weather observation station was AAO. The elevation of the weather observation station was 1,421 feet mean sea level (msl). The routine aviation weather report (METAR) for AAO issued at 1554, reported, winds, variable at 5 knots; visibility, 10 statute miles; sky condition, clear; temperature 37 degrees Celsius (C); dewpoint, 20 degrees C; altimeter, 29.72 inches. Density altitude was calculated to be 4,764 feet.
The routine aviation weather report (METAR) for Wichita Mid-Continent Airport (ICT) issued at 1556, reported, winds, 220 degrees at 6 knots; visibility, 10 statute miles; sky condition, few cumulonimbus clouds at 6,000 feet, scattered clouds at 25,000; temperature 37 degrees Celsius (C); dewpoint, 19 degrees C; altimeter, 29.71 inches.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The FAA operations and airworthiness inspectors arrived on scene approximately 1800 on August 25, 2006. The wreckage was located in a ravine, 100 yards east of the south end of runway 18/36. A global positioning system receiver reported the coordinates of the main wreckage as 37 degrees, 44 minutes, 51.3 seconds north latitude, and 097 degrees, 13 minutes, 16.0 seconds west longitude. The accident site was at an elevation of 1,421 feet msl and the airplane impacted on a heading of 270 degrees.
According to photographs provided by the FAA and the Wichita Police, the motor glider came to rest in a nose down attitude, with both wings parallel with the ground. The engine was crushed aft, into the cabin, reducing the occupiable space. The empennage was bent 90 degrees to the right, approximately 12 inches aft of the trailing edge of the wing.
According to the FAA airworthiness inspector's report, he was able to confirm elevator and control continuity. Due to the impact, aileron movement could not be accomplished; however, the control push/pull rods remained connected. The inspector reported successful detection of tactile compression while rotating the engine through at the propeller. No anomalies were noted with the airframe, airframe systems, or powerplant during the FAA examination.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The autopsy was performed by the Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center on August 26, 2006, as authorized by the Sedgwick County Coroner. The autopsy revealed the cause of death as "a result of craniocerebral injuries due to blunt impact."
During the autopsy, specimens were collected for toxicological testing to be performed by the FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (CAMI Reference #200600200001). Results for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, and drugs were all negative.
The wreckage was released to the family in September of 2006.