CHI07LA199
CHI07LA199

On July 6, 2007, about 1215 eastern daylight time, N43207, registered as an experimental amateur-built Hesler Zodiac CH 601 HDS airplane, piloted by an airline transport rated pilot, sustained substantial damage on impact with terrain following a reported partial loss of engine power during takeoff from the Bloom Airport, near Jamestown, Ohio. A post-impact ground fire occurred. The instructional flight was operating under 14 CFR Part 91. No flight plan was on file. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The pilot and passenger sustained minor injuries. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and was destined for the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport, near Springfield, Ohio.

The pilot reported that he had changed the gas tank lid prior to the flight. The pilot stated that the new lid sealed better than the original lid. The pilot's accident report, in part, stated:

Once on the straightaway I advanced the throttle all the way in and
raised the nose to the pitch attitude I thought should be sufficient to
get us airborne relatively quickly. We did not get airborne as soon as
I thought we should have. I figured that perhaps I was just not used
to the site picture from the right seat and it had been about six weeks
since I had flown the Zodiac. I had flown 80 hours during those six
weeks, but in an Air-bus 330. Another thing which made this takeoff
different was the corn. The corn was over six foot high on my right,
essentially a wall blocking my view of the horizon. The other thing
the corn did was block my view of the hanger. I could not judge how
far down the runway I had gone by referencing my position in relation
to the hangers on the airfield. My view forward was blocked by the
cowling of the aircraft raised in the takeoff attitude. I was hurtling
down a canyon not sure how much runway I had left. At the end of
runway 24, the drainage canal which parallels the left side of the
runway makes a 45 degree turn to the right and runs across the runway
centerline. I needed to be in the air before then. I raised the nose a
little more and became airborne. But, she settled back down to the
runway. Something did not feel right, I should have aborted on this
gut feel. As I said before, I have touched down accelerating in ground
effect on other takeoffs at Bloom, so I let it roll for a little, rotated and
got airborne again. This is where things got really scary. I began to
realize that the engine which had served me so well up to this point,
was not able to provide sufficient power to keep me airborne even in
ground effect. The engine was not missing, but it was as though
someone had slowly been pulling the throttle back since I had shoved
it all the way in. We slowly settled back down to the runway and I
did not know how far I had to go to that drainage canal. I estimate
the canal to be about five feet deep and 15 feet across. I had a choice
of lowering the nose and trying to stop using the brake handle across
the cockpit on [my son's] side hoping I would not nose over into the
canal, or trying one last time to coax the plane into the air and jump
the canal and land in a soybean field. I decided to jump. This time
I got higher than before, which was bad, because I did not have as
much ground effect to keep me in the air. My left wing dropped,
and I realized I was stalling. I lowered the nose to gain control and
picked the left wing almost up to level before we came down hard
just prior to the drainage canal. The impact was in a left crab, slight
left wing down slightly nose up, I think. ... I looked down and
noticed fire immediately coming up from the rudder pedals around
my feet. After a little trouble extricating ourselves from seat and
shoulder harnesses, we were able to get out and away from the plane
which was soon engulfed in flames.

Federal Aviation Administration inspectors examined the wreckage. No pre-impact anomalies were detected during the examination.

The pilot further stated:

If life was like a VCR player and you could rewind and do things over,
this is what I would do different. I would brief an abort. I would brief
how to decide to abort, and the responsibilities of each crew member
during an abort.

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