On February 2, 2008, about 1000 Pacific standard time, an experimental Kidd Harmon Rocket, N96KR, impacted the hilly terrain about 10 miles south of Maricopa, California. The private pilot, who was the sole occupant of the airplane, was killed, and the airplane, which was owned and operated by the pilot, was destroyed. The pilot of the 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 91 personal pleasure flight departed a private airstrip near Taft, California, around 0930. According to a family member, he was en route to the area around New Cuyama, California. No flight plan had been filed. There was no report of an ELT activation. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
At the time the pilot departed Taft, there were visual meteorological conditions (VMC), with 10 miles visibly, in both Taft and New Cuyama. But witnesses who lived in the area reported that there were low ceilings of variable heights and winds gusting to about 10 miles per hour in the hills between the two locations. Reportedly, although the visibility below the clouds was good, the ceiling was touching the top of the hills in many places throughout the area.
It is believed that the pilot attempted to follow State Highway 33 through the narrow valley that runs northeast to southwest through the aforementioned hills. While the pilot was maneuvering in that area, the airplane impacted the terrain while traveling in a northwesterly direction. According to the FAA Inspector who responded to the scene, the airplane hit "very hard" in a nose-down attitude, and traveled about 150 feet before coming to rest. The impact created a three-foot-deep crater, and tore the engine from the airframe.
When the pilot did not show up at his destination on the day of his departure, his family reported him missing, and a search was initiated. The wreckage was eventually spotted from the air four days after the accident.
The airplane was relocated to the facilities of Aircraft Recovery Services, where it underwent an FAA directed teardown inspection. That inspection did not reveal any evidence of a pre-impact anomaly or malfunction of the airframe, flight controls, or engine components.
The FAA's Forensic Toxicology Research Team performed a toxicological examination on specimens taken from the pilot. That examination was negative for screened drugs and consumed ethanol. Due to the elapsed time between the accident and the discovery of the wreckage, the standard tests for carbon monoxide and cyanide were not performed.
The Kern County Coroner performed an autopsy on the pilot, and the cause of death was determined to be from blunt force injuries, with the manner of death being listed as accidental.