DFW08LA209
DFW08LA209

On August 5, 2008, at approximately 1500 central daylight time (CDT), a Evektor-Aerotechnik AS Sportstar, N411EV, registered to Stearns-Chatten LLC and operated by St. Charles Flying Service, Inc. as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 flight, was substantially damaged following a hard landing at St. Charles Airport (K3SQ), St, Charles, Missouri. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and flight plan had not been filed. The special light sport airplane was substantially damaged by the impact forces. The student pilot, who was the only occupant, reported no injuries.

In a statement provided by the student pilot, he reported use of the checklist and a normal takeoff. While 75 to 100 feet above the runway the airplane had a “sudden plunge” but the student pilot was able to pull back on the control stick to regain control of the airplane. A similar nose-over event occurred as he turned crosswind, but was once again able to regain control. The student pilot stated that he "sensed that (he) was in big trouble” and he “needed to get the plane back on the ground as quickly as possible”. The airplane continued to exhibit a nose-over tendency throughout the traffic pattern to runway 09. While turning to final, the student pilot realized that the power setting was too high, but he could not simultaneously maintain aircraft control and adjust the power setting, so the airplane's airspeed remained higher than normal. The airplane touched down at “high speed” and “hit the runway very hard”. The pilot lost directional control after touchdown and the airplane departed the left side of the runway, traveled through the grass and nosed over.

An on-scene investigation was performed by inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). No pre-existing anomalies were discovered with the airframe or the engine. However, the pitch trim was found in the full nose-down position. The pitch trim system and flight controls were examined and found to operate normally.

When the FAA inspectors interviewed the student pilot and asked him to describe his cockpit checks prior to take-off he did not mention the elevator trim setting during any of the checks. Then, when asked if he had possibly left the elevator trim at the wrong setting he responded “I supposed it is… I didn’t even think about the trim tab”.

The student pilot reported a total of 40 hours of experience with approximately 25 hours in the same make and model as the accident airplane. His most recent flight was on June 23, 2008, approximately 6 weeks prior to the accident flight.

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