ERA09LA501
ERA09LA501

On September 7, 2009, at 1916 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Keithley Starduster TOO SA300, N26TK, registered to Aeroscene Incorporated, went out of control and crashed in Saint Matthews, South Carolina. The certificated private pilot and passenger were killed and the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. The flight was operated as a personal flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight. The flight originated from a private grass airstrip in Saint Matthews, South Carolina, at about 1900.

According to a witness, the pilot was giving rides to his friends. The pilot had given three to four short airplane rides to different people. Each flight lasted approximately 5 to 10 minutes and followed the same routine. On the final flight, all appeared normal, including the sound of the engine. The pilot initiated a crosswind turn at midfield and flew a left hand pattern, to land on a 130 degree heading towards a hangar.

The witness continued to say that the airplane turned downwind, base, and final. The airplane's transition from base to final was smooth. On final, the airplane was at a good angle, with a controlled decent. While on final at 200 to 300 feet above ground level, the nose of the airplane suddenly pitched up and to the right, "like a climbing right turn." The airplane's right wing dipped and the airplane made a sharp 180 degree turn, followed by the sound of an impact.

Witnesses attempted to extinguish the flames but were unsuccessful. The police and fire departments arrived on the scene, and the witnesses were directed to leave.

The pilot, age 47, had a private pilot certificate, with airplane single-engine land ratings. In addition, he held a third-class medical certificate issued on September 14, 2006, with a restriction that he must have available glasses for near vision. The pilot's most recent medical certificate indicated that he had accumulated 300 hours of flight time. The pilot's logbook was not recovered for examination.

The two-seat, bi-wing, fixed gear tail-wheel airplane, serial number 1745, was certificated in 1982. It was powered by a Lycoming O-320, 180-hp engine. According to a friend of the pilot, the aircraft's logbooks were in the airplane at the time of the accident. The friend further stated that the airplane's total time was about 435 hours.

Examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector found that the wood and fabric airframe had struck several trees before impacting the ground. The wreckage came to rest against a tree where a post-crash fire totally consumed the airplane. Examination of the engine found both magnetos, the fuel pump, and the fuel servo melted. Throttle and mixture cables were in place. All flight control rods and cables were damaged from the impact, and all control attachment hardware was in place. Examination of the propeller found light bending at the tips and no leading edge damage or scoring.

An autopsy was performed on the pilot on September 9, 2009, by Newberry Pathology Associates, P.A., in Newberry, South Carolina. The autopsy findings included, “Smoke and fume inhalation.” Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report indicated that no carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol or drugs were detected in blood and urine samples.

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