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On August 31, 2007, approximately 1746 Pacific daylight time, a Lancair Company LC41-550FG airplane, N2520P, was destroyed following a loss of control and impact with terrain while maneuvering to land at the Kern Valley Airport (L05), Kernville, California. The certificated private pilot and 5 passengers sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight was being operated in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and a flight plan was not filed. The airplane departed the Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO), Santa Monica, California, at 1621, and its destination was the Kern Valley Airport.
According to a witness who resides on airport property, the airplane was making a straight-in approach to runway 35 when it was observed to be high as it flew over the end of the runway. The witness stated that the airplane then made a left 180-degree turn, which appeared to be a go-around for a second approach to runway 35.
A second witness, who was also located on airport property, reported seeing the airplane heading south. The witness stated that when the airplane was abeam the approach end of runway 35 it began a left turn, followed by its nose dropping straight down before impacting terrain and bursting into flames.
The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC), assisted by representatives from Columbia Aircraft and Teledyne Continental Motors, Inc., performed a preliminary on-site examination of the airplane on September 2, 2007. The examination revealed that the airplane had been destroyed as a result of impact damage and the post-crash fire. The airplane was subsequently recovered to a secure location where a detailed examination of the wreckage was conducted.
The pilot, age 51, held a private pilot certificate with single-engine land and instrument airplane ratings. The pilot was issued a second-class medical certificate on January 10, 2006, without limitations. A review of the pilot's logbook indicated a total time of 789 total flight hours, with 214 hours in make and model.
The pilot received his private pilot certificate on July 26, 2002, and his instrument rating on May 28, 2005. A records review revealed that the pilot had not attended either the Lancair/Columbia factory flight and ground training program, or the company's recurrent training program. Subsequent to purchasing the airplane the pilot received Lancair 400 training from a certified flight instructor. The flight instructor was not factory trained, nor was he a Lancair/Columbia factory trained instructor.
The 2005-model airplane, serial number 41076, was powered by a 310-horsepower Teledyne Continental TSIO-550 engine. The airplane received its airworthiness certification on April 22, 2005, and its most recent annual inspection was completed on June 1, 2007, at a total airframe time of 221 hours.
Weight and Balance
The investigation revealed that on the day prior to the accident a fueler had "topped off" the fuel tanks (98 gallons usable). After initially flying from the Santa Ynez Airport, Santa Ynez, California, to SMO, and subsequently to L05, it was estimated that the airplane had 57 gallons of fuel on board at the time of the accident. The Pilot's Operating Handbook limits the airplane to a seating capacity of four persons - one pilot and three passengers. At the time of the accident the airplane was carrying 6 people - 4 adults and 2 children. A significant quantity of baggage was located throughout the wreckage, and passenger weights were obtained from family representatives for weight and balance calculations. It was estimated that at the time of departure from SMO the airplane was 65 pounds over its maximum takeoff weight, and 83 pounds over its maximum landing weight at the time of the accident. The airplane's center of gravity was within the fore and aft limits for the duration of the flight.
At 1755, the Porterville, California automated weather observing system (AWOS), located about 39 nautical miles northwest of the accident site, reported wind 330 degrees at 8 knots, 10 miles visibility, sky clear, temperature 39 degrees C, dew point 16 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.78 inches of Mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane impacted flat, open, sandy terrain in a near vertical, nose down, wings level attitude, about 1,300 feet west of the approach end of runway 35 on a magnetic heading of 090 degrees, and came to rest on a magnetic heading of 060 degrees. The airplane was completely destroyed by post-impact fire. Fire signatures extended about 100 feet in all directions over the adjacent terrain.
All of the airplane's flight control system components were recovered; however, the aluminum push-pull rods in the aileron and elevator control systems were melted as a result of post-impact fire. Although melted, both control stick assemblies, the aileron torque tubes, aileron crossover tube, aileron bellcranks, and aileron final drive were observed connected, safetied, and intact, with the exception of the left torque tube, which was fractured at mid-span. The elevator interconnect assembly and final drive were also observed intact, with all hardware safetied. While the aluminum control rods for the ailerons and elevator had melted, the threaded steel rod ends from the control rods remained attached to their respective steel components. Continuity to the rudder cables was established from the rudder pedals out to the terminating cable attachment at the rudder horn, with the associated hardware observed safetied.
Both landing gear legs were observed to be straight, with no evidence of impact damage. Both speed brakes were fully retracted. The fuel selector was positioned to the right tank and was observed to move freely without restriction when turned by hand. The mixture, propeller and throttle controls were all found in the forward position.
An examination of the propeller flange revealed that it was separated about 80 percent around its circumference and remained attached to the propeller hub and crankshaft. All three propeller blades exhibited bending, twisting, and distortion, as well as chordwise scratching on the cambered side of two blades.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Kern County Medical Examiner's Office, Bakersfield, California, on September 2, 2007. The result of the examination attributed the cause of death as "blunt force trauma and thermal injury."
The Federal Aviation Administration's Civil Aeronautical Medical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological tests. The results of the tests are attached to this report and provided no evidence pertinent to the investigation.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
On September 3, 2007, under the supervision of the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC), an examination of the airframe and engine was conducted at the facilities of a private salvage company. The results of the examination revealed no anomalies, which would have precluded normal operation.
At the request of the IIC, and under the supervision of a Federal Aviation Administration aviation safety inspector, the airplane's left turbocharger, model TA36, serial number IAL00261, was examined at the facilities of Kelly Aerospace, Montgomery, Alabama. The results of the examination concluded, "With the exception of the post accident foreign material present, the unit was received in satisfactory and functional condition. No fault found."
The airplane's Avidyne Primary Flight Display (PFD) was recovered and sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Division in Washington, D.C., for examination. Lab technicians revealed that due to the extensive thermal damage the component had sustained, no stored data was able to be extracted.