WPR11LA064
WPR11LA064

On November 29, 2010, about 1130 Pacific standard time, an experimental Kennedy Lancair 320, N42BK, impacted the terrain about one-eight mile east of the runway at Lenhardt Airport, Hubbard, Oregon. The airline transport pilot, who was the sole occupant, was killed in the accident sequence, and the airplane, which was owned and operated by the pilot, sustained substantial damage. The 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 flight, which was departing for an undetermined destination, was being operated in visual meteorological conditions. No flight plan had been filed.

According to witnesses, the airplane's takeoff roll and liftoff appeared normal, but when it had flown about one-half way down the runway, its pitch attitude increased slightly and it began to roll slowly to the left until it had reached nearly 90 degrees of bank. At that point there was what appeared to witnesses to be a smooth but significant reduction in engine power. Then, as the airplane began turning away from the runway to the left, it descended into the terrain. During this entire sequence the retractable landing gear remained in the fully extended position. Almost immediately after the airplane impacted the terrain, a rapidly growing fire broke out, which ultimately consumed much of the airplane's structure.

Witnesses stated that the winds were calm, and that the engine sounded like it was running smooth and strong, with no backfiring or coughing, even during the reduction in power. The witnesses also said that the pilot had his dog in the right seat of the airplane at the time of the takeoff. The dog, whose hair was partially burned by the fire, was later found wandering around the area where the airplane impacted the terrain. In a later discussion with the pilot's wife the FAA determined that the pilot often took his dog with him when he went flying. This was confirmed by others at the airport that had seen him take the dog with him before.

According to the FAA Inspector who responded to the scene, although a full flight control continuity inspection was not possible due to the extent of impact and thermal damage, he did not find any evidence of pre-impact anomalies in the flight controls themselves. He also stated that the separations in the flight control torque tubes all appeared to be consistent with overload type failures.

An autopsy provided by the Oregon State Medical Examiner determined that the mode of death was accidental, and that the cause of death was blunt force injuries.

The FAA's Forensic Toxicology Research Team performed a forensic toxicology examination on specimens taken from the pilot. The results of that examination were negative for carbon monoxide and cyanide in blood taken from the heart, and negative for ethanol in the urine. The same examination showed positive results as follows:

Dextromethorphan detected in the urine.
Dextromethorphan detected in blood from the heart.
Dextrorphan detected in the urine.
Dextrorphan detected in blood from the heart.
0.125 (ug/ml, ug/g) Doxylamine detected in blood from the heart.
Doxylamine detected in the urine.
Pantoprazole detected in the blood.

Dextromethorphan is an over-the-counter cough suppressant that may have performance and judgment effects at very high doses. Pantozole is a prescription acid-reducing medication used to treat gastroesophageal disease, and would not normally be expected to result in impairment. Doxylamine is a sedating over-the-counter antihistamine, often used as a sleep aid and commonly found in other substances, such as Dextromethorphan, and in some night-time multi-symptom cold relievers. It is one of the most sedating of antihistamines, and has a half-life of more than 10 hours. The level of Doxylamine found in the pilot's blood was consistent with ingestion of a maximal over-the-counter dose within about four hours prior to death, or a larger dose at an earlier time.

The pilot’s FAA medical records noted a history of coronary artery disease with three-vessel bypass surgery performed in 1998; mild post traumatic stress disorder; insomnia that was treated with medication; and gastroesophageal reflux disease that was treated with medication.

His stress echocardiograms since the 1998 bypass had been normal, with the most recent being in 2008, but the autopsy disclosed that portions of the bypass grafts contained severe atherosclerosis with thrombus formation, vessel calcification, with obvious areas of necrosis. The left anterior descending coronary artery proximal to the bypass graft was noted to have severe atherosclerosis with greater than 90% stenosis, with the distal portion beyond the graft sites being comprised of small vessels with 50-70% occlusion.

A 2005 cardiology summary noted that the pilot's history of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was aviation-related, and in particular related to a low-level near crash that the pilot had experienced.

His most recent Application for Airman Medical Certificate, dated September 11, 2008, was deferred for further evaluation by the aviation medical examiner, and an August 15, 2009, letter from the Manager of the FAA Aerospace Medical Certification Division noted that it had been determined that the pilot was not qualified for any class of medical certificate at that time. There was no indication in the FAA medical records that the pilot pursued FAA medical certification after that denial. Therefore, at the time of the accident, the pilot did not hold a current FAA medical certificate, due to the fact that he had failed to provided the requested records that would have allowed the FAA Medical Certification Division (AMCD) to further evaluate his medical condition.

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