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On August 25, 2009, at 1821 eastern daylight time, a Sportflight International LLC Astra HKS experimental light-sport airplane, N940Z, was destroyed when it impacted terrain while maneuvering near the Shawnee Field Airport (1I3), Bloomfield, Indiana. The sport pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The flight departed 1I3 at an unknown time.
According to witnesses, the airplane was flying from north to south over the airport. One witness, who was an instructor and builder of the accident airplane make and model, observed the airplane "initiate a steep climb and then an approximate 60 degree bank turn." He described the bank as "non-sustainable, too much slide." Another witness reported that while maneuvering for the landing, the airplane entered a "hard left bank at low altitude and went into the ground." The witnesses stated the engine sounded like it was operating normally at the time of the accident. The two occupants were found secured in the airplane with their restraints and were wearing helmets.
Local authorities reported the pilot had been flying the airplane with various takeoff and landings since approximately 1700.
The pilot, age 68, held a sport pilot certificate, issued on October 23, 2006, with weight-shift control, land class, privileges. The pilot's personal flight record logbook was not provided for examination.
The pilot did not hold a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical certificate, nor was one required to operate a light-sport airplane.
An acquaintance of the pilot reported to a FAA inspector that he believed the pilot's total flying experience was about 200 flight hours, and 180 hours in the accident airplane. This acquaintance was also the pilot's instructor in the accident airplane.
The two-place, weight shift control Astra HKS trike design (serial number A0501010H) airplane was equipped with a 3-blade pusher propeller, tricycle landing gear, and powered by a 60-horsepower HKS 700E engine. The airplane had two seats in a tandem configuration.
The airplane was registered to the pilot on September 23, 2006. The airplane logbooks were not located or provided during the investigation.
According to manufacturer information, the stall speed for the airplane is 32 miles per hour.
Witnesses reported the sky was clear, the visibility was at least 10 miles, and the wind was calm.
The FAA reported no evidence of any radio communications with the accident pilot.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The FAA coordinator examined the airplane on scene, and he was assisted by the airplane manufacturer. The airplane came to rest inverted in soybean field approximately 100 feet from the airport perimeter. The initial impact point to the main wreckage measured approximately 40 feet. All structural airframe and engine components were found with the main wreckage. There was no evidence of fire.
The airplane wing structure was fractured into several sections. The control cables for the flex wing were intact; however, some cables were cut by emergency personnel. The nose and left landing gear assemblies were separated from the airframe. The fuel tank was compromised and fractured into several sections. The composite front fairing and seat assemblies were fragmented and destroyed.
The engine remained partially attached to the airframe. All three propeller blades were separated at the propeller hub.
The ballistic recovery system (BRS) chute was found out of the container and the rocket had been discharged. A witness familiar with the airplane reported hearing "a peculiar sound" at impact, which he said was consistent with the rocket discharge.
An examination of components revealed evidence of deformation consistent with ground impact. No evidence was noted of pre-impact structural airframe or engine failure.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Terre Haute Regional Hospital's Department of Pathology, Terre Haute, Indiana. The autopsy findings indicated the pilot died from multiple blunt force injuries. The autopsy report indicated, "Specimens for Toxicology: Blood (cavity) and Urine."
Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report stated evidence of diphenhydramine was detected in the blood (0.011 ug/ml, ug/g). Diphenhydramine, commonly known by the trade name Benedryl, is an over-the-counter antihistamine with sedative effects, often used to treat allergy symptoms. No evidence of ethanol was detected in blood, and no other evidence of drugs was found.