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On July 28, 2010, about 1340 eastern daylight time, an AERO SP Z O O model AT-4 LSA, N8549S, sustained substantial damage when it impacted trees and terrain while maneuvering for landing at the Delaware Municipal Airport (DLZ), Delaware, Ohio. A post impact fire ensued. The pilot, who was the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to Sky Aviation LLC, and operated by the private pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not operating on a flight plan. The local flight originated from DLZ about 1300.
An Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) Aviation officer reported that while performing aerial enforcement activities about 7 miles north-northeast of DLZ, he heard radio transmissions on the DLZ common traffic advisory frequency from an aircraft in the vicinity of DLZ. He stated that he heard a transmission from an airplane whose registration number ended in “S” reporting 10 miles north of DLZ. Shortly thereafter he saw a small, white, single engine airplane flying south at about 1,900 feet mean sea level. The OSHP officer reported that he then heard the same airplane report 5 miles from DLZ. He did not recall hearing any position reports after the 5 mile report. Shortly after the 5 mile position report, he received a call regarding the airplane accident near DLZ.
A witness that was mowing grass at DLZ reported that he observed the airplane fly directly over runway 28/10 heading east at approximately traffic pattern altitude. The airplane made a steep bank right turn about midfield to a south heading. The airplane then flew about 0.5 miles south and then made a steep bank left turn back to an east heading. The witness reported that both observed turns were accomplished with bank angles of 45 degrees or more. He stated that the airplane continued on an east heading in level flight on what appeared to be a left-downwind leg of the traffic pattern for runway 28. The airplane was still at about pattern altitude when it went out of view behind some trees.
A witness that was traveling in his car on a nearby road at the time of the accident stated that he saw a small airplane “in a situation where it seemed to be hanging in the air for a moment with its nose pointed upward at 11:00.” The airplane then “did somewhat of a backward roll.” The witness stated that he could see the top of the airplane and it then spun down toward the ground.
Another witness who was driving in his car near DLZ reported seeing the airplane as it was turning to line up for what he believed was a landing at DLZ. The witness stated that as the airplane turned the wings of the airplane “went vertical” and then entered a dive. The airplane went out of the witnesses view behind a tree line. As the witness passed the tree line he saw the airplane on fire in the field.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single engine land airplane rating. He also held a third class airman medical certificate issued on February 23, 2010. The medical certificate listed no limitations; however the medical certificate was a special issuance and was not valid after February 28, 2011. The pilot’s logbook was found within the aircraft wreckage. The logbook had fire damage and was not fully readable; however and entry was found that indicated that the pilot had accumulated about 1,238 hours of total flight experience. In addition, the pilot reported 1,280 total flight hours and 10 hours in the six months preceding his most recent medical application.
The airplane was an Aero SP Z O O model AT-4 LSA, serial number AT4-004. It was a single engine low wing monoplane configured to seat 2 occupants in a side-by-side seating arrangement. The airplane had a fixed tricycle landing gear and was of predominately constructed of aluminum. The airplane was powered by a Rotax 912ULS engine rated to produce 98 horsepower. A three-blade ground adjustable propeller was installed.
At 1253, the weather reporting station at the Ohio State University Airport, Columbus, Ohio, recorded the weather conditions as; wind 230 degrees at 9 knots; visibility 10 miles; scattered clouds at 2,800 feet; broken clouds at 3,600 feet; temperature 30 degrees Celsius; dew point 23 degrees Celsius; altimeter setting 30.04 inches of mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane impacted trees and terrain about 0.7 miles and 100 degrees from the approach end of runway 28 at DLZ. A tree located near the wreckage path had several broken branches and pieces of the airplane were located in the tree. After impact the airplane came to rest in an upright orientation. Fire damage was evident on the forward fuselage including the cockpit area. The fire had consumed the fuselage structure forward of the main wing spar attachment point, as well as, the upper cabin structure. The tail surfaces remained attached to the fuselage and were predominately intact. The right wing remained attached to the fuselage and exhibited damage to the leading edge, consistent with impact damage. The left wing was partially separated from the fuselage due to fire damage to the inboard portion of the wing. Impact damage was evident on the outboard leading edge of the left wing. Control system continuity was verified from the cockpit to all primary flight control surfaces. No preimpact anomalies were noted during the examination.
The engine and other components located forward of the airplane’s firewall sustained fire damage. The propeller hub remained attached to the engine. All three composite propeller blades had broken from the hub with the propeller blade shanks still contained within the propeller hub.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy of the pilot was performed on behalf of the Franklin County Coroner’s Office. The cause of death was listed as an inhalation injury due to flash fire.
A Final Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report listed the following findings:
33.34 (ug/ml, ug/g) Acetaminophen detected in Urine
0.612 (ug/mL, ug/g) Oxycodone detected in Urine
Oxycodone NOT detected in Blood
0.288 (ug/mL, ug/g) Oxymorphone detected in Urine
Oxymorphone NOT detected in Blood