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On July 21, 2007, approximately 1420 Pacific daylight time, a Globe Swift GC-1B, N3867K, impacted the waters of a small pond during the initial climb-out after takeoff from Cottage Grove State Airport, Cottage Grove, Oregon. The airline transport pilot and his passenger were killed in the accident sequence, and the airplane, which was owned by an acquaintance of the pilot, sustained substantial damage. The local 14 CFR Part 91 personal pleasure flight was being operated in visual meteorological conditions. No flight plan had been filed. There was no report of an ELT activation.
According to its owner, the airplane was up for sale, and the passenger had come from out of state to inspect and possibly purchase it. As part of that process, the owner of the airplane arranged for a pilot, who was also the individual who maintained the aircraft for the owner, to take the passenger up for a demonstration ride. Shortly after establishing the initial climb after takeoff, while the airplane was about 1,500 feet past the departure end of runway 15, witnesses heard the engine cough and sputter. The engine rpm reportedly accelerated between the two or three times it coughed/sputtered, and soon thereafter the airplane's left wing dropped. Almost immediately after the wing dropped, the airplane rolled further to the left, and then descended below the tree line and impacted the surface of a small shallow pond. The pond, which is located about one-half mile from the departure end of the runway, is within in the Cottage Grove East Regional Park, about 400 yards west of the park's BMX track.
According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records and the entries in the aircraft logbooks, the current owner purchased the airplane, a 1948 Globe Swift GC-1B, in February of 2006. Prior to that purchase, the last recorded annual inspection was performed on January 24, 1984. According to the current owner, since the expiration of that annual inspection, the airplane had been sitting in a hangar for over 20 years.
In order to prepare the airplane for a one-time Special Flight Permit for the ferry flight to Cottage Grove, the individual who was flying the airplane at the time of the accident, who was also an FAA certified Airframe and Power Plant Mechanic with Inspection Authorization, performed a number of inspections, adjustments, and component replacements. According to the logbooks, at the time those actions were taken, the airplane's tachometer was reading 843.0 hours.
The airplane was then flown to Cottage Grove, where the battery, carburetor, starter, magnetos, voltage regulator, and generator underwent repair or replacement in preparation for an annual inspection and return of the airplane to service. The airplane's annual inspection was signed off on July 1, 2006, at which time its tachometer reading was recorded as 843.75 hours. The annual inspection, as well as the pre-inspection actions were entered and signed off in the logbooks by the pilot/mechanic who was flying the airplane at the time of the accident.
According to the owner, this same individual was to maintain the airplane, and was to fly it occasionally as part of that process. At the time of the accident, the airplane's tachometer read 848.76 hours.
As part of the investigation, an FAA Airworthiness Inspector from the Portland Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) performed calculations to determine the estimated total takeoff weight of the airplane on the day of the accident. Those calculation were based upon the FAA's data file for this airplane, the weights of the occupants as shown on their respective FAA Airmen Certification Records, and the fact that the owner stated he believed that the airplane was fully fueled on the day of the accident. According to those calculations (see attached copy), the aircraft was approximately 130 pounds over the maximum allowable gross weight of 1,710 pounds.
The 1354 surface aviation weather report (METAR) for Eugene, Oregon, which is located about 15 nautical miles northwest of Cottage Grove, recorded winds from 260 degrees magnetic at 07 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, broken clouds at 4,000 feet above ground level (AGL), overcast clouds at 6,000 feet AGL, a temperature of 26 degrees Celsius, a dew point of 15 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 29.92 inches of mercury.
The 1445 METAR for Eugene recorded winds from 290 degrees magnetic at 09 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, few clouds at 7,500 feet AGL, a temperature of 26 degrees Celsius, a dew point of 15 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 29.92 inches of mercury.
According to calculations performed by the Investigator-In-charge (IIC), the density altitude at the time of the accident was about 2,100 feet. This number is based upon a field elevation of 641 feet mean sea level (MSL), a temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 29.92 inches of mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane came to rest upside down about 20 feet west of the northeast bank of the pond. All major components of the airframe were located at that one location. Prior to retrieval, it was noted that both main landing gear were in the up/retracted position, and that both the right and left wing flaps were flopping freely around their respective pivot/attach points. It was also noted that there was an excessive amount of fuel vapor and fuel smell within the area immediately around the wreckage. Reports from the Cottage Grove Police Department mentioned that fuel had leaked from the wreckage in sufficient quantity to permeate the air, and that some emergency responders had been able to stay in the immediate area for only a short period of time due to the intensity of the fumes from the fuel vapor.
After retrieval, the airplane was taken to H.L.M. Air Services, in Independence, Oregon, where the NTSB, assisted by inspectors from the FAA's Portland Flight Standards District Office, conducted further inspections of the airframe and engine. Those inspections revealed that the majority of the aft crushing impact damage was primarily limited to lower forward area of the fuselage on the passenger side. In addition to the damage in that area, there was an area about two feet long on the leading edge of the right wing, about mid-span, that was crushed aft to the main wing spar. On the leading edge of the left wing, just inboard of the leading edge slat, there was an area about 18 inches long that had been pushed aft about six to ten inches. Except for some moderate wrinkling on the passenger side, just aft of the cabin, the fuselage aft of the cabin was intact, with only minor damage. The left horizontal stabilizer and elevator, along with the vertical stabilizer and rudder, were undamaged. The right horizontal stabilizer and elevator were undamaged, but the stabilizer attached fitting had failed, and the stabilizer was hanging only partly attached to the rest of the empennage.
One blade of the propeller was bend aft about 20 degrees, starting about 10 inches outboard of the hub, with the outboard half of its span bowed gently forward about 20 degrees. There was a partial burnishing of the surface paint near the tip of the blade, but its leading edge was free of indentations. The other blade was essentially straight, with no significant burnishing of the paint, and no leading edge indentations.
An inspection of the cabin area found the throttle was about one inch out from the panel, and the mixture control was found about one-half inch out from the panel. The magneto switch was in the both position, and the master switch was pushed full in to the ON position. The fuel selector was on the main tank, and the electrical auxiliary fuel pump was in the on position. The landing gear lever switch was in the up position, and the flap knob was rotated to the down/extended position. The primer was in and locked. The carburetor heat was in the off position.
The propeller rotated freely, and valve train and the rockers associated with all six cylinders moved freely when the propeller was rotated by hand. Cylinder compression was achieved on all six cylinders when a spark plug was removed and a thumb was held over the spark plug hole while the propeller was being rotated by hand. The magnetos, which were water soaked, did not produce spark when the propeller was rotated. They were therefore removed from the engine, dried over a number of days, and retested. At that time both magnetos produces a spark on all six of their associated spark plug leads.
An inspection of the oil screen found no evidence of contamination except for water. There were no abnormal amounts of filtered metal. An inspection of the fuel system, to include disassembly of the carburetor, found no evidence of anomalies or evidence of contamination except for water. Fuel recovered from the fuel system had the coloring and smell consistent with automobile fuel, and a small amount of fuel placed in the bottom of a Styrofoam cub dissolved the bottom edge of the cup in less than one minute. A review of the engine logbook revealed that an FAA Form 337 had been submitted to the FAA on 27 October, 2006, for the installation of a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) allowing the use of automobile fuel in the this airplane.
During removal of the outlet hose fitting from the engine-driven fuel pump, for the purpose of further inspection of the pump, the fitting fractured. The threaded portion of the fitting remained in the threaded portion of the pump outlet orifice. The fitting was submitted to the NTSB's Materials Laboratory to determine if there had been a preexisting fatigue fracture at that point, or whether the fitting simply failed in overload during the removal attempt. The metallurgical examination determined that the fitting had failed in overload during the removal attempt.
An inspection of the induction air intake system did not reveal any evidence of filter failure or malfunction. There was no evidence of any pre-impact intake filter contamination, or any evidence that the airflow in the intake system had been restricted.
At the completion of the IIC's inspection of the airplane's airframe and engine, no anomalies had been found that would have contributed to a temporary loss of engine power or an in-flight loss of control.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The FAA's Forensic Toxicology Research Team performed a forensic toxicology examination on samples taken from the pilot, and the findings were negative for carbon monoxide and cyanide in the blood, and for ethanol and listed drugs in the urine.
The Oregon Deputy State Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy on the pilot, and the manner of death was determined to be accidental. The cause of death was determined to be asphyxiation due to drowning.