ERA09LA229
ERA09LA229

On April 4, 2009, about 1435 eastern daylight time, a Donald J. Gaynor experimental amateur built RV-6A, N88WG, registered to and operated by a private individual, crashed into trees in Englewood, Florida. The certificated private pilot was killed, the passenger received serious injuries, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. There was a post-crash fire. The flight was operated as a personal flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and no flight plan was filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight departed from the Venice Municipal Airport (VNC), Venice, Florida, at about 1415, the same day.

The passenger stated that they were sightseeing and coming back along the coast and went over the shore. He said they were flying along at about 1300 to 1500 feet when he heard a loud snap or a loud bang. He stated the pilot was jockeying around with the controls moving the stick fore and aft and said “Oh Jesus no”. He further stated that the aircraft was buffeting. The passenger was asked how long after he heard the loud bang was it until he hit the trees and he stated immediately.

Witnesses at a local gathering stated that a white single engine airplane flew over their heads at what they estimated to be 200-300 feet and then the airplane did what some witnesses referred to as a "barrel roll" and others referred to as a "loop." The airplane disappeared from sight. Organizers of the roundup stated that there was no air show scheduled to be performed at the gathering, and the pilot was not known to anyone at the gathering.

The pilot, age 67, held a private pilot certificate, with airplane single-engine land ratings. The pilot held a third-class medical certificate issued on June 7, 2008, with no restrictions. The pilot’s most recent medical certificate indicated that he had accumulated 3,000 hours of flight time. The pilot’s logbook was not recovered for examination.

The two-seat, low-wing, fixed gear tail-wheel airplane, serial number (S/N) 23495, was manufactured in 1999. It was powered by a Lycoming O-360-A1D, 200-hp engine and equipped with a constant speed propeller. The airplane’s logbooks were not recovered for examination.

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector found that the airplane had collided with trees in a heavily wooded area. The wings and cockpit canopy had separated from the airplane. There was an isolated area of fire damage near the instrument panel and under the accessory section of the engine consistent with a post-impact fire. Flight control continuity was established to all control surfaces. Examination of the engine found continuity from the propeller to the accessory section when rotated. The left magneto was removed and rotated by hand and all towers sparked. Examination of the airframe, engine and system components revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical failure or malfunction.

An autopsy was performed on the pilot on April 6, 2009, by the District Twelve Medical Examiner’s Office, in Sarasota, Florida. The autopsy findings included, “Fracture of Spine due to Blunt Impact to Neck and Torso.” The autopsy report noted the finding of carcinoid tumor with multiple metastases to liver and lymph nodes. Toxicology studies performed by the Medical Examiner found Blood Alcohol: Ethanol Positive 0.093 gm/dL, Urine Drug Screen: Ethanol Positive 0.084 gm/dL. Forensic toxicology was also performed on specimens from the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report indicated that there was no carbon monoxide or cyanide in the flood, and 99 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Ethanol detected in blood, 94 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Ethanol detected in Vitreous, 78 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Ethanol detected in Brain, 65 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Ethanol detected in Muscle, Quinine detected in Liver, Quinine detected in Blood, Zolpidem detected in Liver, and 0.031 (ug/ml, ug/g) Zolpidem detected in Blood.

A review of FAA medical records on the pilot by the NTSB Medical Officer revealed that the pilot twice had his FAA medical certificate revoked and his pilot certificate suspended for failing to report convictions for driving under the influence (in 1989 and 1995) in Massachusetts. After the second revocation, the pilot was requested to undergo substance abuse evaluation and to provide driving records “from any state that you have held a drivers license.” The pilot provided driving records to the FAA only from the state of Florida, and did not provide information regarding his 1989 DUI offense to the professional performing the evaluation, who concluded that “There are no apparent signs or symptoms of alcohol abuse or dependence in this case and I have no reason to disbelieve the information given to me by [the pilot].” No details of either DUI offense were provided by the pilot or pursued by the FAA, and in a letter to the pilot from the 1997 following the substance abuse evaluation, the FAA “determined that you are eligible for the third-class certificate which you now hold.” The NTSB obtained the pilot’s State of Massachusetts arraignment records, which noted the two DUI convictions

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