On July 3, 2008, approximately 1855 central daylight time, a Chomo EAA Biplane B1, N6WC, was substantially damaged when it flew into a cable and subsequently impacted the river below, near Schuyler, Nebraska. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 without a flight plan. The private pilot sustained serious injuries. The local flight departed Columbus Municipal Airport (OLU), Columbus, Nebraska, at 1817. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to the accident report filed by the pilot, the airplane rolled into a steep right turn at 500 to 600 feet above ground level and he opened the throttle "too quickly and the engine began to miss"; pulling out carburetor heat did not resolve the situation. As a result, the pilot pulled out the mixture control to clear a "suspected fouled plug", but did so too fast, and too far causing the engine to "almost quit." The engine regained partial power with a change in the mixture setting. An additional mixture control change "cleared [the] plug". The pilot stated that while trouble shooting the loss of engine power the airplane descended to an "altitude only 20 to 25 feet above the river and the airspeed deteriorated to between 70 and 80 MPH." After successfully restoring engine power, the pilot maintained his altitude, applied "full power and let the airspeed build to between 90 and 100 MPH." The pilot did not report changing course or seeking an adequate emergency landing site. Prior to establishing a climb attitude the airplane struck a cable spanning the river.
Statements from witnesses to the accident place the pilot within 2,000 feet of an open air assembly of persons at an altitude of 25 feet just prior to the impact with the cable. Additional witnesses indicated that approximately twenty-five minutes prior to the accident, the pilot "dive bombed" their boats on the Platte River at an altitude of 40 feet causing them to take action to "get the hell out of the way" of the airplanes path.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector, the airplane impacted cables over the North Platte River and subsequently impacted the river. The right wing separated and the fuselage was bent. The pilot was transported to a hospital with broken ribs, among other injuries. An examination of the airframe by the FAA revealed no anomalies.
According to Federal Air Regulation 91.119, Minimum Safe Altitudes, except when necessary for take off or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below "an altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface." In addition, an aircraft may not be operated over a congested area, "or over any open air assembly of persons below 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet", nor over other than a congested area at an altitude below "500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure."
A weather report taken at 1855, for Columbus, Nebraska ,13 nautical miles west of the accident location, shows temperature 80.6 Fahrenheit (F) , dew point 59.0 F, barometric pressure 29.97, visibility 10 miles, wind south 10.4 MPH at the time of the accident. Carburetor icing charts indicate "serious icing at glide power."