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On May 14, 2010 about 0718 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-24-250, N6967P, sustained substantial damage when it impacted terrain during takeoff initial climb from the Roberts Field Airport (RDM), Redmond, Oregon. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The commercial pilot, sole occupant of the airplane, was killed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight. The cross-country flight was originating at the time of the accident with an intended destination of Burns, Oregon.
A witness who was located on runway 4, between taxiway Golf and Hotel reported that while conducting a routine daily runway inspection, he observed the accident airplane initiate takeoff roll on runway 10. The witness stated that he continued inspecting runway 4 and diverted his attention away from the accident aircraft. As the witness passed taxiway Hotel, he stopped his vehicle and reestablished visual contact with the accident airplane. The witness stated that he observed the airplane in an almost vertical attitude above the departure end of runway 10. The witness estimated that the airplane was about 100 to 200 feet above the ground when it performed a 360-degree roll, "stalled", entered a nose down attitude, performed a second 360-degree roll, and descended below a tree line. The witness stated that he did not observe the airplane impact the ground.
A second witness, located in the air traffic control tower, reported that he observed the accident airplane depart runway 10 and that it appeared to be "on a normal climb." The witness stated that as the airplane was about one-half mile beyond the departure end of runway 10, it entered an abrupt climb at an approximate 90-degree angle. The witness further stated that the airplane climbed for approximately 200 feet, nosed over, "descended very steeply", and impacted terrain north of runway 10/28.
Family members of the pilot reported to local law enforcement that the pilot was moving the airplane from RDM to Burns, Oregon, in order to show the airplane to a potential buyer.
The pilot, age 87, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and airplane land ratings. A third-class airman medical certificate was issued on December 20, 2007. A limitation stated "must wear corrective lenses for distant vision, must possess glasses for near vision, not valid for any class after." The pilot's logbook was not recovered for examination. The pilot reported on his most recent medical certificate application; he had accumulated 10,000 total flight hours.
The four-seat, low-wing, retractable gear airplane, serial number (S/N) 24-2108, was manufactured in 1960. It was powered by a Lycoming O-540-A1D5 engine, serial number L-3030-40, rated at 250 horse power. The airplane was equipped with a two-bladed variable pitch Hartzell propeller. Review of copies of aircraft maintenance logbook records showed an annual inspection was completed June 1, 2009, at a recorded tachometer reading of 2,131.48 hours, airframe total time of 2,131.48 hours, and engine time since major overhaul of 1,147.9 hours. The tachometer hour reading observed at the accident site was 2,143.38 hours.
The airplane was last refueled at a local fixed base operator on May 13, 2010 with 41 gallons of 100-low lead aviation fuel. According to a representative from Butler Aviation, no debris or anomalies were observed in a fuel sample taken from the fuel pumps and trucks following the accident.
Using the reported empty weight of the airplane and according to a weight and balance sheet located within the wreckage, at the pilot's most recent reported weight and with full fuel, the airplane was found to be within weight and balance limitations at the time of the accident.
A review of recorded data from the automated weather observation station located at RDM revealed that at 0723, weather conditions were wind calm, visibility 10 statute miles, clear sky, temperature 9 degrees Celsius, dew point 3 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 30.04 inches of Mercury.
The Roberts Field Airport (RDM), Redmond, Oregon, operates under Class-Delta airspace during the hours of 0530 to dusk. The airport features two asphalt runways, runway 4/22 and runway 10/28. Runway 10/28 is 7,006 feet in length, and 100 feet wide. Runway 10 features a 0.5 percent upslope gradient. The reported field elevation was 3,080 feet mean sea level (msl).
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Examination of the accident site revealed that wreckage debris was scattered throughout approximately 400 feet, oriented along an approximate 310-degree bearing from the first identified point of contact (FIPC). The FIPC was identified by a ground scar that contained various paint chips and green lens fragments consistent with the right wing navigational lens. The ground scar extended about 50 feet across taxiway Zulu (dirt taxiway located north of runway 10/28) to a one-foot by two-foot crater in soft terrain. Portions of the engine cowling and one propeller blade were located within the crater. Portions of the right wing, empennage, vertical stabilizer, engine components, Plexiglas, and fuselage structure were located throughout the debris path between the crater and main wreckage.
The main wreckage consisted of the left wing, cockpit, and forward portion of the fuselage. The left wing was observed inverted and the cockpit and forward portion of the fuselage were in an upright position. The engine and portions of the right wing were located about 30 feet beyond the main wreckage.
Examination of the airframe revealed that flight control continuity was established throughout the airplane to all primary flight control surfaces from the cabin area. The horizontal stabilator trim drum was observed in a position consistent with a full nose-up, tab down setting. The stabilator trim drum was free to move by hand. Both ends of the trim cables were separated. The portion of the stabilator trim control cable, when pulled, moved the stabilator trim drum to a setting and exhibited broomstraw and cable curling signatures, consistent with high tension stress and overload. The opposing cable was separated and exhibited broomstraw signatures, consistent with overload separation. Examination of the airframe revealed no evidence of any pre impact mechanical malfunctions.
Examination of the engine revealed that it was separated from the airframe. The alternator, carburetor, and engine driven fuel pump were displaced from the engine. The propeller remained attached to the crankshaft propeller flange. All cylinders remained attached to the engine crankcase. The oil sump was intact and breeched adjacent to the carburetor mount. The oil sump suction screen was removed and found free of debris. The propeller, top spark plugs, left and right magnetos, vacuum pump, propeller governor, and rocker box covers were removed from the engine. The engine crankshaft was manually rotated by hand using a hand tool mounted to an accessory drive on the rear of the engine. Rotational continuity was established throughout the engine and valve train. Thumb compression and suction was obtained on all six cylinders.
The propeller hub remained attached to the engine crankshaft propeller flange. One of the two propeller blades was separated from the hub. The propeller blades were labeled A and B for identification purposes. Propeller blade A remained attached to the propeller hub and was loose within the propeller hub. The propeller exhibited a forward bend that originated about 12 inches outboard of the propeller hub. The propeller blade exhibited a slight twist near the propeller blade tip. Leading edge gouges were observed on the outboard 10 inches of the propeller blade. The outboard propeller blade tip exhibited numerous gouges. Propeller blade B was separated from the propeller hub and was bent opposite the direction of rotation. The leading edge of the propeller blade exhibited gouging throughout most of its span. Chord wise scratching was observed on the outboard 15 to 20 inches of the propeller blade face.
Examination of the engine revealed no evidence of any pre impact mechanical malfunctions.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Deschutes County Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy on the pilot on May 15, 2010. The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was “Blunt force traumatic injuries.”
The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on the pilot. According to CAMI's report, carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and drugs were tested. The test was positive for an unspecified level of Amlodipine within the Urine and Blood.