On October 15, 2006, at 1800 eastern daylight time, an amateur built Pazmany PL-4, N640F, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while maneuvering near Shannon Airport (EZF), Fredericksburg, Virginia. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight, which was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The airport manager reported that prior to the accident, the pilot performed several "touch and go" landings, adding that he saw at least one, and heard at least three. During the touch and go landing that the manager observed, the airplane touchdown on the approach end of the runway, then took off again. The airplane then flew at a low altitude over the runway while accelerating. Near the end of the runway, the airplane pitched upward and climbed to about 500 feet. The airplane then leveled off, and flew a traffic pattern at that altitude, rather than the normal 1,100-foot traffic pattern altitude.
An off-duty state police officer also observed the accident airplane just before the accident. The officer and his wife were driving on the road perpendicular, and directly adjacent to, the approach end of runway 24. The officer stated that he saw the accident airplane cross over the road in front of him, and thought that it might be landing. He thought it was unusual though, since the airplane was flying lower and faster than any airplane he had seen previously. He lost sight of the airplane for a moment, and when he next saw it, it was near the departure end of runway 24. It then pitched "straight up," and climbed vertically to about 500 to 600 feet. The airplane "stopped in the air for a moment," and he could see its top surface, "as if looking at it from above." The airplane then yawed left, rotating until the nose was pointing straight down toward the ground. It then descended vertically, following the same path it did when traveling upward, before he lost sight of it behind trees. The officer became concerned that the airplane may have crashed, so he turned the car around and proceeded to the airport. He then discovered that the airplane had indeed crashed, and proceeded to the scene to render assistance. When he reached the accident site he noted an "extremely strong" odor of fuel.
A third witness, the pilot's girlfriend, also observed the airplane performing touch and go landings. She stated that the airplane performed four takeoffs and landings, all of which concluded with a left turn. During the fifth and final takeoff, the airplane climbed out as it had before, but then banked to the right. She then heard the engine "shut off," then the airplane pitched nose down and descended vertically. The airplane disappeared from view, but moments later she heard the sounds of impact.
The weather conditions reported at EZF, at 1800, included clear skies, and calm winds.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third class medical certificate was issued on April 10, 2006. A review of the pilot's logbook revealed that he had accumulated 281 total hours of flight experience, 74 hours of which were in the accident airplane make and model.
An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Commonwealth of Virginia.
The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing on the pilot.
According to an FAA inspector, the airplane impacted a plowed field about 1/4 mile beyond the departure end of runway 24, and about 150 feet to the right of the runway centerline. The airplane came to rest upright, about 4 feet from ground scars consistent in size and shape with the main landing gear and the nose of the airplane. The leading edges of both wings were crushed aft, and the entire forward portion of the fuselage, including the instrument panel, firewall, and engine mount, were crushed aft. One of the wooden propeller blades was separated about 2 inches from the hub, and the other blade was broken near the hub but remained attached. Continuity was established to all of the primary flight control surfaces, and the elevator trim was in the full nose up position.
Examination of the fuel tank revealed that it was compromised and did not contain fuel. The fuel valve was found in a position that would allow fuel to flow through it. The carburetor fuel inlet line was severed, and the carburetor was broken from the intake manifold. The carburetor fuel inlet screen was absent of debris, and the carburetor bowl contained trace amounts of fuel. Continuity of the engine crankshaft and valvetrain were confirmed. Rotation of the crankshaft produced compression on all cylinders. The gascolator screen and bowl were absent of debris. Examination of the oil screen did not reveal the presence of any metal contamination.
A review of the airplane's experimental operating limitations revealed, "This aircraft is prohibited from acrobatic flight; that is, an intentional maneuver involving an abrupt change in the aircraft's attitude, an abnormal attitude, or abnormal acceleration not necessary for normal flight."