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On August 7, 2009, approximately 1555 eastern daylight time, a Hooper Bushby Mustang MMII experimental airplane, N37JD, was destroyed when it impacted trees and terrain while maneuvering near Gladwin, Michigan. The commercial pilot, who was the sole occupant and registered owner of the airplane, sustained fatal injuries. Visual conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The local flight departed the Jack Barstow Airport (3BS), Midland, Michigan, at 1540.
According to radar data, the airplane departed 3BS from runway 06 and made a left turn to the north. The airplane continued north and made a series of 5 turns to the north and south between 2,500 and 2,700 feet mean sea level (msl). The airplane then made a turn to the south back toward 3BS and radar contact was lost.
A witness reported observing a small red and silver airplane flying 4 to 5 miles southwest of the Gladwin Zettel Memorial Airport, Gladwin, Michigan. The witness, who was flying his own airplane at the time, attempted to contact the red and silver airplane via radio; however, there was no response or communication from the airplane. There were no other witnesses that observed the accident airplane.
On the morning of August 8, 2009, the airplane was reported missing to local authorities by family members. A search was initiated and the airplane was located in wooded terrain at 1530, approximately 2 miles south-southwest of the last radar target.
During an interview with the pilot's wife, which was conducted by local authorities, she reported the pilot was going to go flying after work on the day of the accident. The pilot had worked a 16-hour shift which began at 2200 on August 6th and ended approximately 1500 on August 7th. The pilot had no health problems and the wife did not think the pilot fell asleep in the airplane. According to the interview statement, she stated, "...he was a very careful pilot and if he was tired, he wouldn't have gone up [flying]."
The pilot, age 52, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and instrument ratings. The pilot was issued a third class medical certificate on April 10, 2008.
A review of the pilot's logbook showed that as of July 8, 2009, the pilot had accumulated 594.2 total hours, and 113.7 hours in the accident airplane. In the last eight flights listed in the logbook, the pilot noted in the logbook remarks section that he was conducting lazy 8s, chandelles, and steep turn maneuvers. The pilot's most recent flight review was completed on November 11, 2008. The logbook showed the pilot's first flight in the accident airplane occurred on March 20, 2007.
The 1989 Hooper Bushby Mustang MMII, serial number 502, was a low-wing, conventional gear, experimental amateur-built airplane that was owned and operated by the pilot. The airplane was powered by a four-cylinder Lycoming IO-320-B1A engine, rated at 160 horsepower, and equipped with a two-bladed propeller. The airplane was configured to carry two occupants and equipped with dual controls.
A review of the airplane logbooks showed the airframe and engine underwent a conditional inspection on March 25, 2009, at a tachometer time of 523.5 hours. The engine logbook showed the engine had accumulated 2,453.5 total hours and 581.5 hours since major overhaul.
According to fueling records obtained from 3BS, the airplane was fueled with 13.9 gallons of fuel on August 2nd. No other fuel records were located.
At 1553, the Houghton Lake (HTL) automated weather observing system, located approximately 24 nautical miles north of the accident site, reported the wind from 190 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, sky clear, temperature 21 degrees Celsius, dew point 10 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 30.17 inches of Mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) responded to the accident site. An examination of the accident site revealed the airplane impacted terrain in a nose low attitude. The wreckage distribution was confined to an area approximately 100 feet in diameter. All major components and flight control surfaces of the airplane were located at the accident site. No evidence of fuel was noted at the accident site. The airplane was recovered for further examination.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was conducted on the pilot by the Gladwin County Medical Examiner pathologist on August 9, 2009. The cause of death was listed as trauma related to an airplane accident. Specimens were retained for toxicological analysis by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute's (CAMI) Forensic and Accident Research Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Toxicological tests for the pilot were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and alcohol. Unspecified levels of ephedrine, fluconazole, and pseudoephedrine were detected in the blood and urine.
TEST AND RESEARCH
On August 18th, under the supervision of the FAA, the airplane was examined. The forward fuselage was crushed aft and destroyed. The instrument panel and instruments were destroyed; however, the RPM gauge showed 1,900 RPM; the airspeed indicator showed 50 knots; and the attitude indicator glass and display was destroyed. The leading edge of both wings was crushed aft. The empennage was buckled and stabilizers' surfaces were wrinkled. Flight control continuity was confirmed to all flight control surfaces. The engine was separated from the airframe and displayed deposits of earthen debris around the crankcase and cylinders. The propeller hub remained attached to the crankshaft and both propeller blades were splintered and broken. The propeller spinner was crushed around the propeller hub.
Examination of the airplane by FAA inspectors revealed no anomalies to the airframe and engine that would have precluded normal operation.