ERA10LA166
ERA10LA166

On March 6, 2010, at about 1645 central standard time, an experimental amateur-built Kolb Firestar, N43341, was substantially damaged during impact with trees after a loss of control while departing a private airfield near Wetumpka, Alabama. The student pilot, the sole occupant, received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The student pilot stated that he was performing a series of local flights. His first flight lasted approximately 10 minutes, and after landing he immediately departed on his second flight. He climbed through about 800 feet, attempted to level off, and the airplane pitched down further than expected. He was able to maintain a shallow descent by commanding full up elevator. He added power in an attempt to climb and the airplane rolled 90 degrees to the left and dove straight down. The student pilot commanded full right aileron and rudder, and the airplane "flattened out" just prior to the wings impacting trees. After exiting the airplane, he noticed the tailwheel canted against one side of the vertical stabilizer, along with the lower half of the rudder. He also observed the left horizontal stabilizer to be loose, and the tail stinger to be broken. The student pilot had performed a preflight inspection before the flight, and did not notice anything abnormal. Earlier in the day, another pilot had performed a preflight inspection and flown the airplane, and also did not notice anything abnormal.

On March 7, 2010, a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector traveled to the accident site to examine the airplane. The airplane was located approximately 500 feet east of the airstrip. Both wings suffered substantial crush damage on the leading edge. No damage was observed to the engine or propeller. The tailwheel stinger tube and the lower rudder hinge were fractured. The damage to the tailwheel stringer tube and rudder hinge was consistent with damage caused prior to the flight.

According to the student pilot and FAA records, the student pilot was issued his third-class medical certificate on November 4, 2008, which also served as his student pilot certificate. According to written documentation from the student pilot, he had accumulated approximately 130 total hours of flight experience, of which 100 hours were in the accident airplane make and model. Review of the student pilot’s logbook and certificate by the FAA inspector revealed that his 90-day solo endorsement was issued on October 22, 2009.

According to FAA records, the airplane was built in 1999 and was issued a special airworthiness certificate on October 13, 2009. It was equipped with a Rotax 503DCDI engine and a three-bladed IVO propeller. At the time of the accident the airplane had accrued approximately 500 total hours time in service.

According to the FAA inspector that responded to the accident, the private airstrip was between 500 and 800 feet in length, oriented northeast and southwest, was located between two adjacent hills, and had been "rough graded."

The 1653 recorded weather at Montgomery Regional Airport, Dannelly Field (MGM), Montgomery, Alabama, located 21 miles to the southwest of the accident location, included wind from 360 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 10 miles, few clouds at 500 feet above ground level, temperature 16 degrees C, dew point minus 9 degrees C, altimeter setting 30.23 inches of mercury.

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