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On August 24, 2009, about 2045 eastern daylight time, a Destiny 2000 powered-parachute, N5604B, and an unregistered Phantom X-1E aircraft collided in-flight at a private airstrip near Arcanum, Ohio. Both aircraft were substantially damaged. The flights were being conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The pilot of N5604B sustained fatal injuries. The pilot of the Phantom sustained serious injuries. Both aircraft were returning from separate local flights at the time of the accident.
Both pilots normally operated out of separate grass airstrips located on their property. A two-lane roadway separated the pilot’s property, with the Destiny 2000 powered parachute pilot’s property immediately north of the roadway and the Phantom aircraft pilot’s property immediately south of the roadway. The airstrip used by the powered parachute was 1,200 feet long by 60 feet wide and was oriented east-west along the roadway. A residence and 50 to 60-foot tall trees were located adjacent to the west end of the airstrip.
The grass airstrip used by the Phantom aircraft was about 700 feet long by 50 feet wide and oriented in a north-south direction. The north end of that airstrip was located immediately adjacent to the roadway bordering both pilots’ property. In addition, the extended centerline of the north-south airstrip intersected the east-west airstrip about 200 feet from the east end.
The pilot of the Phantom X-1E reported that he departed about 2015 for a short local flight. He noted that the pilot of the powered-parachute had taken off about 1915 for a flight to a nearby county fair. The Phantom pilot stated that he intended to make one more “large circle” around his property, about 50 feet above ground level (agl), before landing on the north-south airstrip. He added that it was nearing 30 minutes after sunset. The Phantom pilot reported, “In the last few seconds before the collision, I did not see [the powered parachute] and I believe that [the pilot of the powered parachute] did not see me. I truly believe that the trees near the crash site obscured our view of each other.”
The pilot of the Phantom aircraft informed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors that when he turned back toward the airstrip he saw the powered parachute flying westbound about 50 to 60 feet agl. He executed a 360-degree turn and coming out of the turn he saw a car on the road with the driver watching him. When he looked up again the powered parachute was directly in front of him.
A witness reported that the aircraft collided over the west end of the east-west airstrip. The powered parachute, N5604B, appeared to be on final approach to land to the east as the Phantom X-1E approached from the south. After the collision, N5604B descended onto the runway. The Phantom impacted an adjacent corn field. Both aircraft were equipped with strobe lights, which appeared to be operating at the time of the accident. Neither aircraft appeared to be experiencing any mechanical difficulties.
There was no record of the pilot of the Destiny 2000 powered parachute, N5604B, ever applying for or being issued a pilot certificate. FAA records indicated that he was the registered owner of that aircraft.
The pilot of the Phantom X-1E held a sport pilot certificate with airplane single engine land and powered parachute land ratings. He did not hold a medical certificate. He reported a total flight experience of 297 hours, with 65 hours in the same make and model as the accident aircraft.
The first aircraft, N5604B, was a 2000 model year Destiny 2000 powered parachute, serial number 1C0301RWB, manufactured by Destiny Powered Parachute, LLC. It incorporated a single-place cart (fuselage), a Chiron 340 canopy, and was powered by a 65-horsepower Rotax 582 engine. The aircraft was issued an experimental-light sport aircraft category airworthiness certificate in January 2008. Operating limitations associated with that airworthiness certificate required the pilot-in-command to hold a pilot certificate with appropriate category and class ratings. Maintenance records related to this aircraft were not available to the NTSB.
The second aircraft was an unregistered Phantom X-1E. It was a single-place, fixed wing aircraft, powered by a 50-horsepower Rotax 503 engine. The pilot/owner stated that he believed the aircraft met the requirements for an ultralight vehicle (14CFR103.1). He noted that the aircraft had accumulated about 74 hours total time at the time of the accident. The most recent inspection was completed in January 2009.
At 2056, the James M. Cox-Dayton International Airport (DAY) Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS), located about 15 miles east-southeast of the accident site, recorded conditions as: Clear skies, 10 miles visibility, and southeast winds at 4 knots.
The Phantom pilot reported clear skies, greater than 5 miles visibility, and calm winds.
Sunset occurred at 2022 in the vicinity of the site on the day of the accident. Civil twilight ended at 2050. Moon transit, the time at which the moon is highest in the sky, occurred at 1713 and set at 2221. The moon was in a waxing crescent phase, with 23 percent of the moon’s visible disk illuminated.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The Destiny 2000 powered parachute, N5604B, came to rest about 400 feet from the west end of the 1,200-foot east-west oriented turf runway. The aircraft fuselage came to rest on its left side, with the parachute canopy adjacent to it. The fuselage was oriented on a east-northeast heading. The canopy suspension lines appeared intact. The airframe structural tubing in the area of the propeller was deformed and broken. The engine remained securely attached to the airframe. It appeared intact and undamaged. The 3-bladed propeller remained attached to the engine. However, the composite propeller assembly exhibited delamination damage along the aft face of two of the blades. The nose wheel had separated from the fuselage. No anomalies consistent with a pre-impact failure were observed with respect to the Destiny 2000 powered parachute.
The Phantom X-1E came to rest upright in the adjacent corn field about 200 feet north of the runway. It was oriented on a south heading. The right wing was crushed and deformed. The left wing appeared intact. The airframe structural tubing was deformed and fractured in the area of the right wing, aft fuselage/empennage, and cockpit. The appearance of structural tubing fractures was consistent with overload failures. The overhead mast was intact, with the support wires to the left and right wings attached. The engine had separated from the engine mount and was located with the aircraft. The pilot of Phantom X-1E reported that there were no failures or malfunctions related to the aircraft prior to the accident.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy of the powered parachute pilot was conducted by the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office on August 25, 2009. The cause of death we attributed to blunt force trauma sustained in the accident. The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) forensic toxicology report was negative for all substances in the screening profile.
FAA regulations (103.1) define an ultralight vehicle as one that, in part, does not exceed 254 lbs. empty weight and has a power-off stall speed that does not exceed 24 knots calibrated airspeed.
General specifications related to the Phantom X-1E indicated that the aircraft empty weight ranges from 280 to 340 lbs., and the power-off stall speed is 35 miles per hour (30 knots). A representative of the manufacturer stated that it is possible for a Phantom X-1E to meet the weight requirements for an ultralight vehicle if only minimum equipment is installed.
FAA regulations regarding right-of-way (14CFR91.113) state that “vigilance shall be maintained by each person operating an aircraft so as to see and avoid other aircraft.” For aircraft on converging flight paths, “the aircraft to the other's right has the right-of-way.” However, aircraft on final approach to land have the right-of-way over other aircraft in flight or operating on the surface.