On July 20, 2008, at 1557 central daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Carrithers VP1, N822CB, was substantially damaged during takeoff from George Bryan Airport (STF), Starkville, Mississippi. The certificated private pilot was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot reported that on the day of the accident he had performed two takeoffs and landings without incident. During the third takeoff, he intended to complete a 180-degree turn back to the airport and land on the opposite runway from which he departed. The pilot remembered advancing the power to full throttle during takeoff, and departing toward the south on runway 18. When the airplane was at an altitude of about 300 feet above ground level (75 feet above the trees), he initiated a 25-degree left bank turn back toward the runway.
The pilot did not remember the rest of the accident sequence; however, he didn't think the airplane was "climbing as well as it normally did." The pilot stated he thought the density altitude was about 2,800 feet mean sea level (msl), and the runway length was 5,200 feet. The airplane's gross weight, at the time of the accident was approximately 850 pounds.
According to the pilot the airplane was last fueled with 5 gallons of 100 low lead aviation fuel just prior to takeoff. The airplane was equipped with an 8 gallon fuel tank.
According to a witness, who was also a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Designated Pilot Examiner, he observed the airplane liftoff from runway 18, and climb to about 50 feet "in ground effect." As the airplane passed the departure end of the runway, it "started losing altitude," and impacted trees about 1/2 mile south and west of the runway extended centerline.
Examination of the airplane by an FAA inspector revealed substantial damage to the fuselage and wings. No pre-impact mechanical deficiencies were noted.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on January 10, 2007.
At the time of the accident, the pilot reported 9,018 hours of total flight experience, 600 of which were in the accident airplane's make and model .
The 1550 recorded weather at Golden Triangle Regional Airport (GTR), Columbus, Mississippi, 14 miles east of the accident location, included winds from 270 degrees at 4 knots, visibility 10 miles, scattered clouds at 7,000 feet agl, temperature 37 degrees C, dewpoint 19 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.06 inches mercury. The calculated density altitude was 2,628 feet msl.
The George Bryan Airport consisted of one asphalt runway oriented in a 18/36 configuration. The runway was 5,550 feet-long and 150 feet wide.
The Starkville Police Department Chief of Police reported that the pilot had a blood alcohol content of .130 upon his arrival at the local hospital after the accident. The blood alcohol content (.130) exceeded the legal threshold for operation of a motor vehicle (.08) while under the influence of alcohol.
According to local police investigative records, the pilot had a history of two DUIs in 1994, and residential treatment for “alcohol abuse” that same year. Those records indicated that the pilot’s primary care physician had prescribed alprazolam (at a dose reported in the records obtained as “5 mg, twice a day”) and paroxetine for “stress and anxiety” diagnosed “5-6 years ago.” The records indicated that the pilot’s blood alcohol level was 0.13 g/dL one hour after the accident and noted that his symptoms were consistent with “a relapse following treatment for alcohol dependence.”
Applications for Airman Medical Certificate submitted to the FAA in 1980, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1999, 2001, and most recently (for a 2nd class Airman Medical Certificate) on January 10, 2007 did not note any history of alcohol-related diagnoses, treatments, convictions, or administrative actions. The pilot's most recent application indicated no use of medications, and no history of anxiety.
According to 14 CFR Part 91.17, "No person may act ... as a crewmember of a civil aircraft ... while under the influence of alcohol…or while having an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater in a blood or breath specimen. "