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On January 14, 2010, about 1430 eastern standard time, an unregistered, amateur-built experimental light sport aircraft, Quad City Challenger II, impacted the ground near Airport Manatee (48X), Palmetto, Florida. The student pilot was fatally injured and the airplane was substantially damaged by impact forces and a post crash fire. The flight was operated as a personal flight under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, and no flight plan was filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.
According to the owner of the unregistered airplane and several eyewitnesses, the pilot was contemplating purchasing the airplane and was going to taxi the airplane around the airport. The owner reported to the NTSB investigator in a phone interview that the accident pilot owned an airplane and they talked about trading airplanes. He heard the engine of the airplane "revving" and then observed the airplane "going in a circle." After the airplane went behind a row of trees he heard the engine surge followed by observing rising smoke from the area. One eyewitness heard the owner inform the pilot "not to go up because of the wind." A short time later, the witness heard the airplane's engine "rev up" and then saw the airplane climb out and turn in order to remain in the airport traffic pattern. He watched the airplane on the downwind leg make a turn as if toward the airport; however, the airplane appeared to have a "fairly steep bank." He then heard the engine "rev up" and then become quiet. Another eyewitness located south of the airport observed the airplane from behind and reported that the "wings were perpendicular to the ground," then the nose of the airplane "did a quick dive." The eyewitness lost sight of the airplane behind some trees, and then saw smoke.
A search of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman database revealed that the pilot held a student pilot certificate/third class medical issued in June 2004. No other certificates or ratings were located by the FAA. No logbooks or other flight records for the pilot were located; however, family members reported to the FAA that the pilot had been flying airplanes for several years.
The experimental amateur-built Quad City Challenger II was a two-seat, high-wing, pusher configuration with a primary structure that consisted of fabric-covered metal tubing, fixed gear with floats airplane. It was assembled by the owner approximately 2 months prior to the accident. The engine was mounted above and aft of the cockpit. It was powered by a Rotax 582 engine and equipped with a three-bladed propeller. The airplane was unregistered and uncertificated at the time of the accident and no aircraft logbooks have been made available for review.
The 1453 surface weather observation at Albert Whitted Airport (SPG), St. Petersburg, Florida, located approximately 10 miles northwest of the accident location, included calm winds, visibility 10 miles, clear skies, temperature 19 degrees C, dew point 7 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.18 inches of mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
According to the FAA inspector that arrived on scene, the airplane had sustained post-impact fire damage. The airplane was in a nose down attitude at the time of impact and was partially embedded into the ground. The accident location was approximately one-half mile south of the airport in a ditch near an open field. Flight control continuity was established; however, due to thermal damage was unable to be verified.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The District Twelve Medical Examiner in Sarasota, Florida, performed an autopsy on the pilot. The autopsy report indicated the cause of death was "…blunt impact…"
The FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute performed toxicology on specimens from the pilot. The report stated that 27.608 ug/ml Norpropoxyphene was detected in the urine, 3.709 ug/ml Norpropoxyphene was detected in the blood, 0.825 ug/ml Propoxyphene was detected in the blood, and 0.629 ug/ml Propoxyphene was detected in the urine. No carbonmonoxide, cyanide, or ethanol was detected.
The autopsy report on the pilot noted hepatitis C infection, and the microscopic examination of the liver indicated "early bridging fibrosis and steatosis with fatty vacuoles occupying 15 % of the cross-sectional area. The portal tracts have mild chronic inflammatory cell infiltrates." The medical examiner’s office noted that blood submitted for toxicology testing was "chest cavity" blood.