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On April 9, 2007, at 1630 mountain daylight time, an amateur built Wakewood Lancair O-200, N351DW, collided with the terrain approximately 7 miles north of Scottsbluff, Nebraska, following a loss of control. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. The local 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight was being conducted in visual meteorological conditions without a flight plan. The local flight originated from the Western Nebraska Regional - Heilig Airport (BFF), Scottsbluff, Nebraska, at 1600.
It was reported the pilot had been taking local high school students for a flight to enhance their recent studies of aerodynamics. The passenger on board the airplane was a student from the local high school.
A witness reported seeing the airplane flying in the area prior to the accident. This witness stated the airplane was approximately 1,000 feet above the ground and that the engine sounded good. About 25 minutes later, he heard the airplane again and said the engine was "running fine but then increased in rpm then went to idle then increased again then started to slow down." He stated he looked out the window and saw the airplane at an altitude of about 500 feet above the ground in a descending right turn. He stated it made 1 1/2 right turns before he lost sight of it behind the terrain.
The pilot, age 63, held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. The pilot was issued a third-class medical certificate on July 13, 2006. The certificate contained the limitation, "Must wear corrective lenses."
The pilot purchased the accident airplane in May 2003. The pilot's logbook indicated he had a total flight time of about 1,507 hours, of which approximately 127 hours were in a Lancair O-200. The pilot completed a flight review on October 6, 2006.
The accident airplane was an 1989 amateur built experimental Wakewood Lancair O-200, serial number 35. It was a single-engine, low wing, two-pace airplane with retractable landing gear.
The aircraft and engine logbooks indicate the last condition inspection was performed on June 29, 2006, at a total aircraft time of 6,547.74 hours. The total aircraft time at the time of the accident could not be determined as the hour meter on the tachometer sustained impact damage rendering it unreliable.
The airplane was equipped with a 150-horsepower, Lycoming O-320-E2D engine, serial number L-30625-27A.
The weather conditions recorded at BFF, located approximately 7 miles south of the accident site, at 1653 were: Wind from 150 degrees at 11 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; few clouds at 11,000 feet; temperature 17 degrees Celsius; dew point 2 degrees Celsius; altimeter 29.50 inches of mercury.
At 1553, the reported weather conditions at BFF were: Wind from 150 degrees at 9 knots, gusting to 16 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; few clouds at 10,000 feet; temperature 18 degrees Celsius; dew point 3 degrees Celsius; altimeter 29.53 inches of mercury.
The pilot of a Cessna 340 reported, that around 1600, he encountered "moderate to severe horizontal wind shear turbulence" at an altitude of 5,500 to 5,600 feet (approximately 1,500 feet above ground level) while 8 miles west/northwest of BFF.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The wreckage was located in an open field approximately 7 miles north-northwest of BFF. Inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Flight Standards District Office in Lincoln, Nebraska and Textron Lycoming conducted the on scene inspection of the wreckage.
The airplane came to rest with the fuselage in an upright position. The tail of the airplane remained attached to the fuselage by a small section of fiberglass material. Most of the tail was separated from the fuselage just forward of the stabilizers. The rudder and elevator remained attached to the empennage. The right wing was fractured into several pieces. The left wing was separated from the fuselage and was found inverted alongside the fuselage.
The cockpit was destroyed. Most of the flight instruments were found scattered around the wreckage site. The position of the landing gear and flaps could not be determined due to impact damage. Flight control continuity was established by tracing the flight controls from the cockpit to the respective control surfaces. There were several breaks and separations due to impact damage throughout the flight control systems.
Twenty pounds of lead weight was located in the tail of the airplane. The airplane was originally equipped with a smaller engine. The lead weights were used to offset the additional forward weight the larger engine.
One of the wooden propeller blades remained attached to the propeller hub. This blade contained leading edge scratches. The other blade was separated and found near the main wreckage. Both propeller blades contained lengthwise cracks. The propeller spinner was flattened and twisted.
The engine was separated from the firewall. The crankshaft was separated on the aft side of the propeller flange. The carburetor was separated from the engine and broken into several pieces. The metal floats were still attached to the upper portion of the carburetor. The left magneto remained attached to the engine with the cap of the magneto separated. An Electroair Direct Ignition System was installed instead of a right magneto. The spark plugs were inspected and they showed normal wear signatures. A boroscope was used to inspect the inside of the cylinders and no anomalies were noted. The engine could be rotated by hand approximately one-quarter turn due to internal binding. Engine continuity was established. The fuel pump was separated from the engine. Fuel was present in the pump and in the line from the fuel tanks to the pump.
The insert clasp ends on the passenger's shoulder harness and seat belt were pulled free from the webbing.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy of the pilot was performed on April 11, 2007, at the Regional West Medical Center, Scottsbluff, Nebraska. The final autopsy report listed the immediate cause of death as "Multiple blunt force injuries."
The FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute performed forensic toxicology on specimens from the pilot. All test results were negative.
Paperwork located in the airplane indicated the stall speed with full flaps extended was 78 miles per hour (mph) or 68 knots. The low-speed side of the white arc on the airspeed indicator was at 54 knots or 62 mph. A mechanic who performed the last condition inspection on the airplane stated he thought there were speed markings on the glass of the airspeed indicator. The glass was shattered and not located during the investigation.