ERA10LA151
ERA10LA151

On February 21, 2010, at 1117 eastern standard time, an experimental amateur-built, Cotter Stits Playmate airplane, N816, registered to a private owner, experienced a total loss of engine power while approaching to land at Williston Municipal Airport (X60), Williston, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The personal flight was operated in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot reported serious injuries and the passenger received minor injuries. The flight originated from X60 at 1000.

The pilot stated he departed X60 at 1000, climbed up to 2,000 feet mean sea level, and flew over to his home located in the vicinity of Raleigh, Florida. He circled the house before departing to the west towards the Gulf of Mexico, near Cedar Key. He and his son flew around Cedar Key, and then flew back to X60. When the pilot was about 10 miles from X60, he contacted the airport on the UNICOM frequency for airport information. He maintained 2,000 feet, pulled the carburetor heat control back, and reduced power. The engine quit and the propeller started to windmill. The pilot attempted an engine restart; however, the engine started and quit again 2 to 3 seconds later. The airplane continued to descend. He turned the airplane to line up with the runway when he observed a telephone pole. He immediately slipped the airplane to the right to avoid the telephone pole and the airplane collided with the ground and came to rest inverted. He and his son were upside down in the harness and he cracked the canopy. They were unable to exit the airplane. First responders arrived at the accident site and extracted them from the airplane. They were both transported to a local area hospital.

The pilot indicated on the NTSB Pilot/ Accident/Incident Report that he has 408 total flight hours, of which 8 hours are in the Stits Playmate. He has flown 8 hours in the last 90 days and 2 hours in the 24 hours preceding the accident. He also indicated that he had 17 gallons of fuel on board at take off.

Examination of the crash site by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed the airplane was in a descending right turn, in a crab, when the landing gear collided with a wire located between two telephone poles on a heading of about 023 degrees magnetic. The nose of the airplane pitched down and collided with the ground, separating the nose landing gear, and the airplane came to rest inverted on a heading of 160 degrees magnetic. The distance from the initial point of contact with the wire to the airplane propeller was 24 feet. The length of the airplane is 19 feet 6 inches.

The propeller assembly remained attached to the propeller crankshaft flange. Both propeller blades remained attached to the propeller hub and there was no evidence of rotation. The spinner was not damaged. The nose cone, upper and lower engine cowling were damaged. The engine assembly was pushed up, aft, and displaced to the right.

The cabin area remained intact and the instrument panel was not damaged. The throttle was in the mid-range position. The mixture lever was full rich and the carburetor heat was off. The fuel selector valve was on. The fuel tank was not ruptured and no fuel was present in the fuel tank. The fuel tank had a tight seal and no fuel staining was present on the airframe. No browning of any vegetation was present and no smell of fuel was present at the crash site. First responders who arrived at the accident site reported no leakage of fuel or smell of fuel. Continuity of the flight controls was confirmed from the flight controls aft to all flight control surfaces.

Both wings remained attached to the airframe and there was minor damage to the leading edge of both wings. The left wing tip and outboard ribs received structural damage. The main landing gear remained attached to the airframe. The empennage aft of the pilot’s compartment was intact and not damaged. The anti collision light was damaged.

Examination of the engine revealed no data plate was present on the engine. The engine was previously used as a ground power unit. According to the registered owner, the engine was purchased with no history in a "pickled condition." The crankshaft was rotated by turning the propeller by hand. Valve and drive train continuity was confirmed and continuity was established with all accessory gears. The top spark plugs were removed. The propeller was rotated by hand and suction and compression was not obtained. The fuel lines were examined and free of blockage, and about 2 to 3 ounces of fuel was present in the fuel lines. The gascolator was examined and about 2 to 3 ounces of fuel was present. The carburetor was separated and no fuel was present.

The airplane was transported to the registered owner’s hanger for temporary storage. The engine was removed on March 1, 2010, and transported to an aircraft maintenance facility for further examination.

Further examination of the engine assembly revealed the engine exhaust assembly and induction tubes were intact. The oil sump was intact and oil was present in the engine. The left and right magnetos remained attached to the engine and were not damaged. Both magnetos were removed and rotated by hand. A visual inspection of the internal and external magneto gears was accomplished with no anomalies noted. The ignition harness was not damaged. All cylinder push rods were intact and not damaged. All cylinder fins were not damaged. The carburetor heat box was damaged and remained attached to the carburetor. The air filter was removed and sand was present from ground impact. The throttle and mixture controls remained attached to the throttle arm.

All rocker covers were removed and no damage was present on the valves or valve springs. The starter and generator remained attached to the engine and were not damaged. The vacuum pump remained attached to the engine. The vacuum pump was removed and the drive coupling was not fractured. The top and bottom spark plugs were removed and were of new condition and oil soaked. The oil was drained through a paint filter and no anomalies were noted. The oil suction screen was removed and was free of contaminants. An oil filter was not installed. The engine oil pump was removed, inspected and no anomalies were noted. The engine was rotated by the propeller and compression and suction could not be obtained on cylinders 1, 2, and 3. The No. 4 cylinder had 25 pounds. The rocker arms and valves moved when the crankshaft was rotated. Continuity of the crankshaft was confirmed to the rear accessory gears and to the valve train. The interiors of all cylinders were examined and some rust was noted on the bottom of the cylinder skirts. All pistons were removed and no anomalies were noted. The piston rings were found to be in a satisfactory position. The valves on each cylinder were inspected and no anomalies were noted. The engine case halves were separated, and the crankshaft and camshaft were intact with no anomalies.

The fuel tank was removed from the aircraft and was taken to the maintenance facility for inspection. The fuel tank was intact and not damaged. The tank was filled with approximately 3 gallons of water and placed in the approximate position in which it was found at the accident site. The tank seeped a small amount of water over a period of an hour out of the gas cap, but it retained the majority of the water.

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