DFW08LA081
DFW08LA081

On March 9, 2008, about 1247 central daylight time, a single-engine amateur built, Ritter RV-10 airplane, N410MR, was destroyed upon impact with terrain following a loss of control while in cruise flight near Ledbetter, Texas. The private pilot, sole occupant of the airplane, was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot. A flight plan was not filed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 flight. The 71-nautical mile cross-country flight originated from the Brenham Municipal Airport (11R) Brenham, Texas with Lockhart, Texas (50R) as its intended destination.

The accident pilot attended a "fly-in" breakfast at 11R, and while there had mentioned to several people that he wasn't feeling well and he was probably coming down with a cold. A pilot who departed about 15-20 minutes before the accident pilot, and heading to 50R, reported that they talked about doing a GPS approach into 50R and that they would meet after landing. The airplane did not arrive at the destination.

The airplane was the subject of an ALNOT (alert notice) for a missing airplane, and a search was initiated. The airplane was located on March 11, 2008, in a wooded area about 9 miles east of Giddings, Texas.

There was no reported communication or distress calls from the accident pilot.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector, who responded to the accident site, reported that the airplane impacted the ground in a near vertical angle and at a high rate of speed. The aircraft was fragmented on impact with the ground and trees. The airplane wreckage was retrieved and transported to a salvage yard for further investigation.

Review of the airplane's radar track shows the airplane shortly after its departure from 11R, climbing and heading southwest. The radar plots also revealed that once the aircraft was established at an altitude of 2,600 feet, the altitude did not vary, nor did the aircraft make any major heading changes. The last radar return was at 12:47 and the airplane appeared to be in level flight at 2,600 feet.

The pilot/owner held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane, single-engine land. Additionally, he possessed an instrument rating. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued September, 2007, at which time he stated, he had accumulated 1,150 total hours of flight experience.

An examination of the aircraft wreckage was conducted by the NTSB Investigator-in-Charge (IIC) at Air Salvage of Dallas (ASOD) on 3 April, 2008.

An aircraft wreckage lay-out was conducted; most of the cabin area and airplane had disintegrated during the accident sequence. All four corners of the aircraft were accounted for. The fuselage, wings, engine, landing gear, and empennage structure were identified along with all of the control surface structures. The empennage section was torn from the fuselage and consisted of the horizontal and vertical stabilizers, along with their respective control surfaces. Each of the flight control surfaces counter-weights were either still attached or accounted for. The left wing attachment bolts were in-place, but the left wing spar had been separated into several pieces. Parts of the left wing spar and spar caps were fractured and buckled. The pilot and passenger main cabin doors were fragmented and found with the wreckage debris. The top of the fuselage cabin, where the two main doors attached was located, and the four hinges that attach the doors were in place.

The pilot and co-pilot control sticks along with the airplanes "push-pull" control tubes were found damaged and broken by the impact. However, each of the fasteners located on the controls were in place. Control continuity was established from the rudder to the foot pedals. Examination of the flight control components revealed breaks and fractures consistent with overload separation.

The fuel selector valve, which had impact damage, was found turned half-way between the left and right fuel tank position.

The airplane's engine, which had been removed from the ground crater at the accident site, was examined. The engine had significant impact damage. The engine case displayed extensive cracking consistent with impact. The engine crankshaft could not be rotated due to impact damage. The control linkage to the fuel servo was still attached. During the examination several pieces of the 3-bladed composite/wood propeller were located. The propeller's hub remained attached to the engine flange.

No evidence of an in-flight fire was noted with either the fuselage or engine areas. Additionally, no reason for the loss of control was found.

An autopsy was preformed on the pilot by the Travis County Medical Examiner. The cause of death was listed as undetermined. Additionally, the report states, "It is unclear whether or not [the pilot] was alive at the time of the crash."

At 1245, the automated weather observing system at Giddings-Lee County Airport (GYB), Giddings, Texas, reported wind from 150 degrees at 13 knots gusting to 23 knots, 10 miles visibility, an overcast sky at 6,500 feet, temperature 64-degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 50-degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.17 inches of Mercury.

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