THIS CASE WAS MODIFIED 11/14/2007 Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
HISTORY OF FLIGHT
On October 4, 2006, at 1325 mountain daylight time, an Extra Flugzeugbau GMBH EA 300/L, N300BB, owned operated by a commercial pilot, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain at Tucumcari Municipal Airport (TCC), Tucumcari, New Mexico. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The aerobatic performance flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 without a flight plan. The pilot sustained fatal injuries. The local flight departed approximately 1320.
According to several witnesses, the pilot had just initiated his aerobatic performance at the 14th Annual Tucumcari Air Show. The pilot was just exiting a loop, in a westerly direction, close to the ground. According to multiple witnesses, as the airplane descended and completed the loop, the wings began to shake back and forth. One witness reported that it appeared as if the airplane was rocking. The airplane impacted the ground and came to rest to the south of runway 08/26, between the runway and the taxiway.
According to a cameraman recording the performance, the pilot was performing a downwind square loop prior to the accident. The cameraman stated the pilot did not "start his pull until he was too low to recover." He stated, "When the plane passed overhead, the noise the air was making as it passed over sounded very interrupted or turbulent." The cameraman noted, "There was a definitive break in the wing flight, a dip or stall, as it passed by."
The pilot, age 60, held a commercial pilot certificate last issued on August 31, 2004, with airplane single engine land and sea, rotorcraft helicopter, and glider ratings. In addition, the pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with multi-engine land and sea ratings, and a flight instructor certificate with airplane single engine, multi engine, and instrument ratings. The pilot held a second-class airman medical certificate issued on October 5, 2005. The certificate contained the limitation "corrective lenses for near and distant vision."
A single photocopied page of the pilot's medical certificate, pilot certificate, statement of acrobatic competency, flight review, and aircraft maintenance was located within the airplane wreckage. According to this document, the pilot satisfactorily completed the requirements of a Flight Review on May 5, 2005. According to the statement of acrobatic competency, the pilot was approved for solo aerobatics at level 1 unrestricted in an Extra 300. This certificate expired on August 31, 2007.
The pilot was an experienced aerobatic performer. He flew for the Make-A-Wish foundation and had performed at multiple air shows for many years. The family provided a copy of the pilot's flight log for review. According to the pilot's flight log, he had logged no less than 4,093 hours total time. The pilot had owned the accident airplane since new and had logged no less than 590 hours in the accident airplane.
The accident airplane, an Extra Flugzeugbau GMBH EA 300/L (serial number 086), was manufactured in 1999 in Germany. It was registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on a standard airworthiness certificate for normal acrobatic operations. The airplane was equipped with a Lycoming AEIO-540 engine rated at 300 horsepower at 2,700 rpm. The engine was equipped with an MT-Propeller 3-blade, constant speed propeller.
The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot, and was maintained under an annual inspection program. According to the maintenance logs, an annual inspection had been completed on April 7, 2006 at a total airframe and tachometer time of 583.2.
The closest official weather observation station was Tucumcari Municipal Airport (TCC), Tucumcari, New Mexico. The elevation of the weather observation station was 4,065 feet mean sea level. The routine aviation weather report (METAR) for TCC, issued at 1253, reported, winds, 060 degrees at 15 knots gusting to 20 knots; visibility, 10 statute miles; sky condition, clear; temperature 24 degrees Celsius (C); dewpoint, 09 degrees C; altimeter, 30.33 inches. Density altitude was calculated to be 5,700 feet.
The accident airplane was equipped with a Sony GV-D1000 Video Walkman Mini-DV recorder. The recording media was secured in a fabric case and duct taped to the front seat shoulder harness. The visual lens was mounted to the top of the instrument panel and recorded an aft view. This media was sent to the Vehicle Recorder Division in Washington, D.C. for further review. Approximately 23 minutes and 22 seconds of digital video information was recovered.
The video began with the accident airplane holding for takeoff on a ramp. Approximately 21 minutes into the recording, the airplane departed for the performance flight. The accident airplane performed several loop maneuvers and low passes. Just prior to the accident, the airplane pulled up into another loop, pausing for 3 seconds at the top, in inverted level flight. As the pilot pulled out at the bottom of this loop, the airplane experienced two impulses, one second apart, that resulted in momentary rapid rolls to the left. The second impulse was stronger than the first and the airplane remained within 10 degrees of wings level through both events. The recording ended at 23 minutes and 22 seconds, with the airplane airborne, in level flight.
Throughout the video the pilot is seen sitting upright and making purposeful head and shoulder movements consistent with preparatory clearing for maneuvers and flight controls manipulation.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) arrived on scene approximately 1230 on October 5, 2006. The accident site was located in the airport environment in a level, dry grassy area. A global positioning system receiver reported the coordinates as 35 degrees 11 minutes 00.4 seconds north latitude and 103 degrees 36 minutes 37.7 seconds west longitude. The accident site was at an elevation of 4,065 feet msl and the airplane impacted on a magnetic heading of 270 degrees.
The first identified point of contact (FIPC) was located to the east of the main wreckage. The FIPC consisted of a ground scar 35 feet long and 7 feet at its widest point. Composite material and paint chips were located within this initial scar.
Multiple ground scars and a debris path followed the FIPC and extended to the main wreckage. Composite material, paint chips, torn metal, Plexiglas, the right wheel pant, engine exhaust manifold, various personal effects, portions of the control surfaces, the battery, an engine mount, and engine cowling were all located within the debris path. Two large swaths within this path were saturated in engine oil and fuel.
The main wreckage was located 382 feet from the FIPC and came to rest on a magnetic heading of 030 degrees. The main wreckage consisted of the left and right wings, the empennage, and the fuselage. The engine separated from the fuselage at the engine mount and came to rest 26 feet north of the main wreckage.
The right wing separated partially from the fuselage and came to rest inverted, under the fuselage. Twenty inches of the outboard portion of the leading edge separated. The left wing separated entirely from the fuselage and came to rest towards the front of the fuselage. The leading edge of the wing was crushed and broken from the tip to 26 inches inboard. Both wings were covered in oil-saturated dirt.
The empennage, to include the horizontal stabilizer, vertical stabilizer, elevator, and rudder, remained attached to the airplane. The tip of the left horizontal stabilizer separated and the composite material was crushed inboard. The elevator was jammed with the control deflected up and the trim tab was partially separated. The top 12 inches of the vertical stabilizer was crushed to the right. Grass and dirt were embedded in the top aft portion of the vertical stabilizer. The entire empennage was covered in a thin layer of oil-saturated dirt.
The forward portion of the fuselage was crushed aft. The aft seat within the cabin was crushed down and the floor of the fuselage was destroyed. The exterior and interior fuselage, to include the instrument panel, was covered in oil-saturated dirt.
The airplane's cabin instruments displayed the following indications:
Altimeter - 9,200 feet
Kolsman Window - 30.28 inches
Magnetic Compass - 025 degrees
Heading Indicator - 360 degrees
Vertical Speed Indicator - 700 feet per minute climb
The airplane's engine instruments displayed the following indications:
Engine Temperature - zero
Engine Pressure - zero
Manifold Pressure - 26 inches
Fuel Flow - 14
The airplane's engine controls were found in the following positions:
Fuel Mixture - Full rich
Propeller - High rpm
An examination of the remaining controls and switches revealed the following:
Smoke Refill - On
Smoke System - On
Avionics - Off
Strobe Lights - On
Boost Pump - On
Auto Pilot - On
Master Switch - On
Elevator Trim - Nose down
Due to impact damage, control continuity could not be verified through movement of the control stick or control surfaces. The elevator control was continuous from the elevator to a point just aft of the aft pilot seat. The pushrod separated between that point and the aft control stick (This pushrod was located within the debris field.) Continuity was confirmed between the aft and forward control stick. Rudder continuity was confirmed from the rudder control forward to both pedals. The ailerons were continuous through both control sticks to the aileron pushrods. Both pushrods separated at their respective wing root.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The autopsy was performed by The University of New Mexico - Office of the Medical Investigator on October 5, 2006. The autopsy revealed the cause of death as "multiple blunt force injuries."
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 #200600231001). Tests for carbon monoxide and cyanide were negative. Metoprolol was detected in the blood and urine. Ethanol was detected in the blood (45 mg/dL), urine (15 mg/dL), and brain (11 mg/dL). N-Propanol was detected in the blood (1mg/dL) and urine (1 mg/dL). Putrefaction was noted on the toxicology report.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The airplane wreckage was recovered and relocated to a hanger in Greeley, Colorado. The engine was examined by the NTSB IIC on December 11, 2006. The valve covers and top spark plugs were removed and the engine was rotated through at the propeller. Valve movement was noted and tactile air movement was confirmed on all 6 cylinders. The fuel injector nozzles were removed and found free of debris and contamination. Both magnetos separated from the engine. Due to impact damage, neither magneto could be functionally tested. All three propeller blades separated partially or entirely from the propeller and were fragmented.
Parties to the investigation included the FAA represented through the Albuquerque, New Mexico, Flight Standards District Office. The wreckage was released to a representative of the insurance company on March 27, 2007.