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On June 18, 2010, at 1505 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Glenn H. Curtiss Museum Hudson Flyer, N910GC, crashed shortly after takeoff from runway 19 at Penn Yan Airport (PEO), Penn Yan, New York. The certificated airline transport pilot sustained serious injuries, and the airplane was substantially damaged. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the maintenance test flight, which was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91.
The airplane was a replica of the Curtiss Albany Flyer, which completed the first successful flight between Albany, New York and New York City along the Hudson River in May, 1910.
According to a representative of the Glenn Curtiss Museum, the accident flight was the fourth flight of the day. The three previous flights were the airplane's first test flights, and each consisted of one takeoff and landing in which the airplane lifted off the runway, climbed to approximately 40 feet, and touched down again prior to the end of the runway. The representative stated that, during these flights, the airplane's controllability was confirmed during low- and high-speed taxi, takeoff, flight in ground effect, and landing. He also stated that during these flights, the flight controls were shown to be responsive and effective.
The purpose of the accident flight was to take off, climb the airplane, and perform a traffic pattern around the airport before returning for landing. According to the museum representative, there was a crosswind from the west at the time of takeoff. The airplane lifted off from runway 19, climbed to about 100 feet above ground level, and turned left approximately two-thirds down the runway. The airplane was observed in a controlled descent and impacted the ground in a right wing-low attitude. According to the FAA, a witness located near the accident site reported that he heard the airplane's engine running prior to impact.
In an interview with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the pilot stated that the airplane started to descend after beginning the left turn, and he felt that the airplane may have experienced a decrease in lift as a result of the tailwind conditions. The pilot did not report any mechanical malfunctions or anomalies with the airplane.
The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with a multiengine land rating, a flight instructor certificate with airplane single- and multi-engine ratings, a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and sea and multiengine sea, and a private pilot certificate with a glider rating. The pilot also held numerous type certificates. His most recent first-class FAA medical certificate was issued on February 1, 2010, at which time he reported a total flight time of 23,200 hours. The pilot had accrued approximately 5 minutes of flight time in the accident airplane.
The airplane was constructed primarily of bamboo, fabric, and wire, and was powered by one, 90-hp, Curtiss OX-5 reciprocating engine in a pusher configuration, which was equipped with a wooden propeller. The airplane was controlled around its vertical and longitudinal axes by means of a wheel located in front of the pilot's seat, and around its longitudinal axis by means of a "shoulder yoke" worn by the pilot. In order to effect a turn left or right, the pilot would be required to lean in the desired direction of the turn.
The 1453 automated weather observation at PEO included winds from 230 degrees at 8 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, clear skies, temperature 26 degrees C, dew point 13 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.09 inches of mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane came to rest upright on a heading of about 50 degrees, approximately one-half mile east of the departure end of runway 19. Examination by an FAA inspector revealed significant impact damage to the right wing and elevator canard. Flight control continuity could not be established due to the extent of the damage. The fuel tank contained fuel, and fuel continuity to the engine was confirmed. Visual inspection of the engine revealed no anomalies.