On June 6, 2009, about 1744 eastern daylight time, an experimental, amateur-built Smith Searey, N169GW, was substantially damaged when it impacted Melton Lake, near Knoxville, Tennessee. The certificated private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight. The local personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to information provided by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector, the pilot was providing rides to passengers attending a celebration on Melton Lake. Following a previous uneventful local flight with another passenger, the pilot returned, landed, and the accident passenger boarded.

The final moments of the accident flight were captured on video by pleasure boaters on Melton Lake. The video depicted the accident airplane flying, about 200 to 400 feet above the boat, before it proceeded away. The airplane then entered a steep bank, descended steeply, and impacted the water.


According to FAA records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and sea. The pilot's most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on February 4, 2009, and the pilot reported 450 total hours of flight experience on that date.


The airplane was a dual-seat, single engine, amateur-built amphibious seaplane. According to FAA records, the airplane was built and owned by the pilot, and was completed in 2001. No maintenance records were recovered.

According to the experimental seaplane’s kit manufacturer, when equipped with a 100 horse power engine and loaded with 2 occupants, the stall speed in level flight was 40 miles per hour.


The 1753 weather observation at Mc Ghee Tyson Airport, located 15 nautical miles southeast of the accident site, included winds from 010 degrees at 3 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, few clouds at 4,800 feet, temperature 26 degrees C, dewpoint 14 degrees C, and altimeter setting of 29.96 inches of mercury.


After recovery from Melton Lake, the wreckage was examined under the supervision of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector. Flight control continuity was traced from all flight control surfaces to the cockpit controls, and no anomalies were noted with the airframe. The engine was drained of accumulated water, examined, and test run. During the test run the engine produced power and no mechanical anomalies were noted.


The University of Tennessee Medical Center, Knoxville, Tennessee, performed autopsy postmortem examination on the pilot. The autopsy report indicated the cause of death was "blunt force injuries of torso."

The FAA’s Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing for the pilot. Fluid and tissue specimens from the pilot tested negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol. Ibuprofen and Naproxen were detected in urine.

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