On April 14, 2008, at 1310 eastern daylight time, a Boeing E75N1, N3840K, sustained substantial damage when it impacted terrain during the base leg turn of a visual flight rules (VFR) approach to runway 28 (4,012 feet by 50 feet, asphalt) at the Youngstown Elser Metro Airport (4G4), Youngstown, Ohio. The airline transport pilot received minor injuries and the airline transport pilot rated passenger received serious injuries. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight departed 4G4 about 1305 on a post maintenance test flight. If the test flight was successful, the pilot planned to continue flying to the first fuel stop at Ruhe's Airport (R47), Leipsic, Ohio. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot reported that the maintenance test flight was required due to extensive airframe and engine repairs. The pilot did two engine run-ups prior to takeoff, and he noted that the engine was "missing." He stated, "During the first takeoff the engine 'missed' twice and the takeoff was aborted." He taxied back to the ramp and the maintenance manager told him that the engine needed to warm up more before takeoff. He concurred and allowed the engine more warm up time before the next takeoff.
The pilot departed from runway 28. He reported that he flew a close-in left traffic pattern at an altitude of about 500 - 800 feet above ground level (agl) in case of an engine failure. After a touch and go was performed, he made an aggressive pull-up prior to the crosswind turn, and entered into a right downwind leg at 500 - 800 feet agl at 80 knots. When he was about abeam the landing zone, he pulled the power to idle and started a turn to base in about a 30-degree angle of bank (AOB) turn. He reported that about half through the turn, he felt a "strong gust/shear from behind." He glanced at the airspeed indicator and saw the airspeed needle passing through 60 knots and it was trending down. He applied full throttle but the aircraft "did not seem to respond." He stated the engine did not quit, but it did not feel like the engine responded instantaneously. He reported that the airplane stalled, the nose pitched down, and impacted the ground about 1/4 mile from the end of runway 28.
Numerous witnesses observed the test flight. The maintenance manager reported that the engine "coughed" a couple of times when the pilot taxied the airplane to the run-up area and during the aborted takeoff. He told the pilot that the engine was not warm enough for takeoff and that he should apply power slowly during takeoff. The maintenance manager reported that the pilot climbed to about 500 feet after takeoff and entered a close in "carrier type of approach where the downwind, base and final is one continuous turn." He stated that the pilot did a touch and go and made an "abrupt" pull-up and entered a right hand turn to a 300 - 400 foot agl downwind leg. He stated that when the airplane turned base, the bank angle was 30 - 45 degrees, the altitude was 300 feet agl, and the pilot cut the power when he rolled into the turn. He reported that the cockpits were clearly visible when the airplane reached the 90-degree position, and then the airplane "literally fell out of the sky nose first."
Another witness reported that the pilot made a low pass after the touch and go and "pulled up sharply" prior to entering a right downwind. He reported that the pilot "rolled a very tight base to final," and the pilot pulled the power back about half way through the turn. He stated, "The wind was out of the north at this time, when he made his turn it put the wind on the tail. The aircraft was in a very steep turn [;] I could see the entire top of the upper wing. The aircraft stalled, rolled over on its back and hit the ground at a steep nose down angle."
Federal Aviation Administration inspectors examined the airplane. The flight controls were inspected and continuity was established to all flight control surfaces with no pre-impact anomalies. The engine had separated from the firewall and the mixture and throttle control rods were sheared off. Both control rods moved when the controls in the cockpit were operated. The throttle and mixture push-pull tubes still attached to the carburetor were found secure and safe tied. The throttle linkage rod exhibited a fracture surface that was consistent with a bending overstress fracture.
A new wooden propeller with 0.0 hours had been installed on the airplane. One blade was broken and separated at the hub. The other blade was broken at the hub but about two feet of the blade remained attached to the hub, although splintered. The outboard section of the blade was separated from the remaining blade and the blade end was splintered.