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On January 17, 2010, about 1745 central standard time, a Buckeye Aviation Inc, DM582 powered parachute, N582DW (aircraft A), collided with another Buckeye Aviation Inc, DM582 powered parachute, N846DW (aircraft B), near Sublette, Kansas. The parachute canopy collapsed on aircraft A and the aircraft was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Aircraft B was not damaged and the pilot and passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. Both flights were being conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 without flight plans. Both aircraft were on personal flights that had originated from a nearby off-airport location about 1730.
The pilot of aircraft A and other witnesses stated that aircraft B was generally northbound in straight and level flight, approximately 200 to 300 feet above ground level. Aircraft A was slightly above and in front of aircraft B when aircraft A made a turn to the right. Aircraft A continued the turn and was southwest bound when it began a slight descent toward aircraft B. The parachute canopy of aircraft A collided with the lower portion of aircraft B. Witnesses said aircraft A fell almost straight down.
Following the impact, aircraft B “jerked” and briefly swung backward; however, the pilot was able to regain control and perform a landing in the area close to the wreckage of aircraft A.
Aircraft A Pilot
The Aircraft A pilot, age 24, did not hold a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilot certificate, and did not hold a FAA medical certificate. According to an FAA interview with family sources, the pilot did not maintain a pilot logbook or other written record of his flight experience. His flight experience was estimated at a total of 30 hours, with all of that experience in a Buckeye Aviation Inc, model DM582 powered parachute. No record could be found that he had ever completed a flight review, or that he had ever received flight instruction in any type of aircraft.
Aircraft B Pilot
The Aircraft B pilot, age 23, did not hold an FAA pilot certificate, and did not hold an FAA medical certificate. According to an FAA interview with the pilot, he estimated he had a total of 100 hours of flight experience, with all of that experience in a Buckeye Aviation Inc, model DM582 powered parachute. He estimated that the total included about 10 hours of flight instruction. He did not maintain a pilot logbook or other written record of pilot experience and no record could be found that he had ever completed a flight review.
Aircraft A (serial number 3729), was manufactured in 1997. The FAA issued an experimental light sport airworthiness certificate on June, 28, 2006, and the powered parachute was registered to the pilot on November 5, 2009.
A review of the maintenance records indicated that it was maintained under an annual condition inspection program. The most recent condition inspection had been completed on June 9, 2006, at an aircraft total time of 67.3 hours.
Aircraft B (serial number 4457), was manufactured in 1999. The FAA issued an experimental light sport airworthiness certificate on June, 16, 2006, and the powered parachute was registered to the pilot on October 1, 2008.
A review of the maintenance records indicated that it was maintained under an annual condition inspection program. The most recent condition inspection had been completed on June 9, 2006, at an aircraft total time of 92.2 hours.
At 1754, the automated weather observing system at Garden City, Kansas (GCK), located about 19 miles northeast of the accident site, reported winds from 050 degrees at 6 knots, visibility of 10 miles, few clouds at 9,000 feet, temperature 55 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 21 degrees Fahrenheit, with an altimeter setting of 29.83 inches of mercury.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration records for Sublette, Kansas, show the sun was 0.69 degrees above the horizon at an azimuth of 243 degrees true at 1745. The apparent sunset occurred at 1751.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The wreckage of the powered parachute came to rest upright on the undamaged rear main landing gear. There were ground scars and corresponding evidence of impact damage in the area around the nose wheel and rudder pedal area. The nose wheel was fragmented and separated, but the nose tire remained attached to the axle and forward frame area. Compression damage was evident to the lower and forward upper tubular frame structure and several portions of the tubing which were bent, were fractured and partially separated. The pusher engine, attached propeller, and propeller shroud were still attached to the forward engine mount which was bent down and forward about 40 to 50 degrees.
The rear seat, mounted in tandem directly behind the front seat, was bent down and forward onto the front seat. The forward part of the engine mounts partially intruded onto the vertical backrest of the rear seat. The front seat showed impact damage and was bent down and forward onto the bottom tubular frame structure.
All three blades of the propeller showed evidence of impact damage. Two of the propeller blades were partially separated approximately midway from the tips.
The parachute canopy and parachute risers remained attached to the top of the aircraft frame, but were collapsed onto the right side of the wreckage. Several cells of the parachute canopy were damaged.
The fuel tank was not ruptured and there was no postimpact fuel spill.
Aircraft B was not damaged.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot of the aircraft A, by Cimarron Pathology, P.A.; Liberal, Kansas, on January 18, 2010. The autopsy concluded that the cause of death was due to severe closed head trauma and severe pulmonary contusions.
Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot of aircraft A by the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report stated: NO CARBON MONOXIDE detected in Blood; NO CYANIDE detected in Blood; NO ETHANOL detected in Vitreous, Blood, Brain, Kidney, Liver, Urine, or Muscle. ISOPROPANOL detected in Vitreous; NO METHANOL detected in Blood. METHANOL detected in Vitreous, Urine, Brain, Kidney, Liver, and Muscle. ACETAMINOPHEN detected in Urine.
Isopropanol is an alcohol. It is also produced postmortem, along with methanol and other alcohols.
According to 14 CFR 61.3 (a) (1), “No person may serve as a required pilot flight crewmember of a civil aircraft … unless that person … has a pilot certificate…”.
In addition, 14 CFR 61.23 (b) states, ”… a person must hold and possess either a medical certificate … or a U.S. driver's license when exercising the privileges of … a sport pilot certificate in a light-sport aircraft…”
In addition: 14 CFR 1.1 says “Civil aircraft means any aircraft other than a public aircraft”