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On November 27, 2007, at 1636 central standard time, an amateur-built Herink Challenger II, N2159M, collided with the terrain following a loss of control near the Foster Airport (7A4), Apple River, Illinois. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The local personal flight was being operated under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from 7A4, about 1600.
The pilot reportedly took off from 7A4 and was practicing takeoffs and landings when the accident occurred. A witness reported the pilot flew once around the traffic pattern prior to the accident.
A witness reported seeing the airplane just north of the airport heading in a southeasterly direction. He stated the airplane was low, approximately 80 feet above the ground, and it barely cleared a group of trees prior to the nose dropping. The airplane then descended into the field. The witness reported that there were occasional wind gusts in the area around the time of the accident.
The pilot, age 70, held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating, issued September 20, 1974. The pilot did not hold a current medical certificate.
The pilot's family provided copies of the pilot's logbook for review. The last entry in the second of two logbooks was dated August 25, 1996. The logbook showed the pilot had a total flight time of 171.6 hours and that his last biennial flight review was on March 24, 1996.
A family member of the pilot stated the pilot kept the airplane on his property, which was across the street from the 7A4. She stated he frequently flew the airplane between several farming properties in the area.
The accident airplane was an amateur-built Herink Challenger II, serial number CH20289R0392. The majority of the two-place airplane was constructed of fabric covered aluminum tubing. The nose cone, wheel pants, and center wing covering were fiberglass. The airplane was powered by a 52 horsepower, pusher mounted, Rotax 503 engine.
The airplane did not have an airworthiness certificate and maintenance records were not located during the investigation.
The weather conditions reported at the Dubuque Regional Airport (DBQ), Dubuque, Iowa, 23 miles west of the accident site, at 1653, were: Wind calm; visibility 10 statute miles; clear skies; temperature minus 4 degrees Celsius; dew point minus 15 degrees Celsius; altimeter 30.33 inches of mercury.
A witness reported that there were occasional wind gusts in the area around the time of the accident.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The wreckage, located in an open field, was approximately one-quarter mile northeast of 7A4. The airplane came to rest in an upright position. The nose of the airplane, including the instrument panel, was crushed leaving the area in front of the forward seat exposed. Both wing struts collapsed and both wings folded downward around the cockpit area. The wings, engine, and cockpit area were canted to the left. The leading edge aluminum tubing on the left wing was bent rearward. The left wingtip covering was separated from the wing and found near the main wreckage. The right wing was relatively intact with little damage other than being bent downward at the wing root. Both blades on the wooded propeller were broken. The aft fuselage and empennage structure was primarily intact.
Flight control continuity was established from the cockpit controls to the flight control surfaces. The propeller was rotated by hand and compression was achieved on all of the engine cylinders. Fuel was present in the carburetor, fuel lines, and in the aircraft fuel tank.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy on the pilot was performed November 28, 2007, at the Winnebago County Coroner’s Office, Rockford, Illinois. The autopsy report listed the immediate cause of death as "Blunt trauma of the head, neck and chest."
A Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report was prepared for the pilot by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The results for tests performed were negative.