ERA09LA013
ERA09LA013

On October 12, 2008, at 0806 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Sabre Tukan weight-shift light sport aircraft, N75604, was substantially damaged following an uncontrolled descent after takeoff from Cooper Field (private), Mohawk, Tennessee. The non-certificated pilot/owner was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight that was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Local law enforcement responded to the scene, and interviewed several witnesses, as well as members of the pilot’s family. Witnesses reported there was a strong, gusting wind from the east, but the pilot elected to takeoff to the west. During the takeoff roll, the aircraft dragged the left wing on the turf runway, and nearly collided with a camper. The aircraft climbed between 100 and 150 feet above ground level, and made a “hard left turn” before it entered a nose-down descent and impacted terrain. Witnesses described the engine sound as “wide open” throughout the takeoff and accident sequence.

According to the police officer-in-charge at the scene, an interview with the pilot’s wife revealed that the aircraft was a recent purchase by the pilot, and that he had arranged to meet a flight instructor at Cooper Field on the morning of the accident. The instructor never arrived, and the pilot elected to take his first flight in the aircraft solo, and without prior instruction. The pilot’s wife later confirmed these circumstances in a written statement.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector who responded to the scene, a search of FAA records revealed that the pilot held no pilot certificates, and neither was there any record of his applying for an FAA medical certificate.

According to FAA and maintenance records, the airplane was manufactured in 1999, and had accrued 350 total aircraft hours. The most recent conditional inspection was completed January 13, 2008, at 350 aircraft hours.

At 1347, the weather reported at McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS), about 40 miles north of the site, included few clouds at 6,500 feet and winds from 040 degrees at 11 knots. The visibility was 10 miles. The temperature was 16 degrees Celsius and the dew point was 8 degrees Celsius.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Tennessee Department of Health, Johnson City, Tennessee performed an autopsy on the pilot. The autopsy report indicated that the pilot died as a result of "Blunt force injuries secondary to ultralight plane crash."

The FAA’s Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing of the pilot. Fluid and tissue specimens from the pilot tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (Marijuana) and tramadol, a prescription pain killer.

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