ERA09LA019
ERA09LA019

On October 16, 2008, about 1245 eastern daylight time, an experimental, amateur-built Hargett Sky Ranger II, N75684, was substantially damaged when it impacted a field near Rock Hill, South Carolina. The non-certificated pilot was killed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the flight, which originated at a private airstrip in Rock Hill. The local personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, there were no witnesses to the accident. The pilot registered the airplane in December 2007, but it had not been issued an airworthiness certificate. The inspector also noted that the airplane, which was assembled by the pilot, had accumulated 81 hours of flight time.

The pilot, age 51, had not taken formal flight training, but was teaching himself how to fly. He had also received instruction from another non-certificated individual who had the same type of airplane, and the two of them would follow each other on short cross country flights over unpopulated areas, mostly farm fields. The FAA inspector further noted that interviewees had characterized the pilot as "really enthusiastic and excited" about building and flying his airplane.

The FAA inspector also reported that although the pilot had taken off initially from a private airstrip about a mile away from the accident site, the property where the accident occurred also included a private airstrip. The owner of the second airstrip, who had known the pilot since he was a boy, had specifically told him not to land on his airstrip until he had received proper training.

At the accident scene, the FAA inspector found that the airplane had impacted a bean field nose-down, and that the tail was sticking up at an approximately 60-degree angle. The two composite propeller blades were broken off at the hub, and there were an estimated 3 to 4 gallons of fuel onboard the airplane. There was no evidence of engine or airframe malfunction, and flight control continuity was confirmed from all flight control surfaces to the cockpit.

Weather, recorded at nearby Rock Hill Airport, about the time of the accident, included clear skies, calm winds, 10 statute miles visibility, temperature 23 degrees Celsius, dew point 16 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 30.12 inches Hg.

An autopsy was performed on the pilot at Piedmont Medical Center, Rock Hill, South Carolina, under the authority of the York County Coroner. According to the autopsy report, the cause of death was an "aortic laceration secondary to acceleration/deceleration injury experienced in a plane crash."

Toxicological testing was subsequently performed by the FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Results included:

0.0479 ug/ml tetrahydrocannabinol (marijuana) detected in blood
1.5081 ug/ml tetrahydrocannabinol (marijuana) detected in lung
0.0402 ug/ml tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid (marijuana) detected in blood
0.0362 ug/ml tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid (marijuana) detected in lung

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