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On June 17, 2009, at an unknown time, a Champion 7ECA, N8339V, crashed under unknown circumstances in hilly terrain near Lake Elsinore, California. The pilot/owner operated the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal local area flight. The certificated commercial pilot and passenger were killed; the airplane was substantially damaged. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and no flight plan had been filed. The flight departed the Corona Municipal Airport (AJO), Corona, California, about 1055.
The pilot's spouse was interviewed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge. She reported that the plan was for her husband and the passenger to fly to French Valley Airport (F70), Temecula, California, for lunch, and then return to Corona. After a couple of attempts to reach the pilot, and a missed dinner, she called a friend to check the airport. The friend indicated that the pilot's car, along with the passenger's car, were at the airport, but the airplane was not at the hangar. The friend offered to go out flying and look for the airplane, which he later located near Lake Elsinore.
Riverside County Sheriff's Department dispatch personnel received a report of a downed airplane about 1855 from the pilot that had located the airplane.
A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airworthiness inspector responded to the accident site. The airplane wreckage came to rest intact and inverted on sloping terrain. Both wings showed similar damage; leading to trailing edge crush damage. The empennage and tail were bent over the cockpit area, and the fuselage was twisted and buckled. Flight control continuity was established on scene. The FAA inspector reported that there was no debris path, and it appeared that the airplane had stalled prior to impacting the ground.
Reported weather in the area for the day was generally clear skies, with visibility 10 statute miles, and winds generally from the northwest about 10 knots.
A review of the FAA airman records revealed that the 70-year-old pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane.
The pilot held a second-class medical certificate issued on June 12, 2009. It had the limitations that the pilot must wear corrective lenses. On his last medical application, the pilot listed a total time of 3,550 hours, with 30 hours in the last 6 months. An examination of the pilot's logbook indicated an estimated total flight time of 3,486.3 hours. He logged 9.2 hours in the last 90 days, and 3.5 hours in the last 30 days. He had an estimated 46 hours in the accident make and model.
The airplane was a 1966 Champion 7ECA, serial number 196. A logbook entry dated November 5, 1997, indicated that the fabric had been removed from the airplane, the airframe had been repaired and refurbished, and then new fabric was installed. On September 22, 1999, the airplane was found to be in an un-airworthy condition due to fatigue, corrosion, and structural damage to the wings. A logbook entry for May 5, 2000, showed an ending tachometer time of 542.2 hours and an airplane total time of 2,775.11 hours. An annual inspection was completed on August 25, 2008; the airplane total time was recorded as 3,475.2 hours. An additional logbook entry dated October 8, 2008, for removal of the attitude indicator, recorded an airframe total time of 3,503.0 hours.
On July 17, 1997, a Textron Lycoming O-235-C1 engine, serial number L-8928-15 was removed; total time in service was 2,133.8 hours. On November 5, 1997, a Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM) O-200-A48B engine, serial number 285235R, was installed on the accident airplane. At that time the engine total time was 277.3 hours. Total time recorded on the engine at the last 100-hour inspection on October 8, 2008, was 1,644.3 hours since major overhaul.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Sheriff-Coroner, County of Riverside, Riverside, California, completed an autopsy on June 19, 2009. The cause of death was listed as multiple blunt force trauma.
The FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing of specimens of the pilot. Analysis of the specimens for the pilot contained no findings for tested drugs. The report contained the following findings for volatiles: 10 mg/dL ethanol detected in muscle; no ethanol was detected in heart or kidney. They did not perform tests for carbon monoxide or cyanide.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The wreckage was examined at Aircraft Recovery Service, Chino, California, on July 7, 2009. During the engine examination, the crankcase showed impact damage with a large section of material missing from the upper and lower sides between cylinders 3 and 4; interior components were visible through the holes in the crank case with no visible mechanical damage present. The components that were visible were oil soaked. The accessory housing cover was removed revealing undamaged accessory gears that showed evidence of residual oil. The base of the alternator housing along with a section of the alternator drive shaft remained attached to the engine and had sustained impact damage. The starter drive was not damaged.
Both the left and right magneto's separated from their respective mounting pads on the engine. The left magneto was not inspected as it was not located in the recovered wreckage. The right magneto showed impact damage to its housing and internal components. The ignition harness was damaged and was in several small sections. The spark plugs were removed and showed normal wear signatures (Champion Aviation check-a-plug chart AV-27). The top and bottom numbers 1 and 3 spark plugs had light gray deposits. The top and bottom number 2 spark plugs had debris in the electrode area. The top and bottom number 4 spark plugs were oil soaked. The carburetor had impact damage, and separated from the induction manifold and filter assembly. The carburetor bowl was removed, and was free of fuel and debris; the carburetor floats were compressed with no additional anomalies noted. The oil pump cover plate was removed; the gears moved freely and the pump was not damaged. The cover plate and cavity walls of the oil pump assembly showed impact marks along with material smearing.
The propeller assembly remained attached to the engine with the spinner crushed and torn. The propeller blades were randomly labeled Blade A and Blade B. Blade A was bent aft near the hub, and showed evidence of s-bending and chordwise scratching the length of the blade. Blade B was bent aft near the mid-section of the blade. It exhibited s-bending, chordwise scratching the length of the blade, and leading edge gouging.
No abnormalities with the engine were found that would have prevented normal operation.