On December 2, 2010, about 1406 central standard time, an experimental amateur-built Southerland Freebird Litesport Ultra airplane, N415US, sustained substantial damage when it impacted terrain following an in-flight loss of control while maneuvering after climbout from runway 18 at the Decatur Airport (DEC), near Decatur, Illinois. The personal flight was operating under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was on file. The pilot was fatally injured. The local flight departed about 1359 and was returning to DEC at the time of the accident. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot had requested a high-speed taxi clearance and the air traffic control tower cleared him to perform a high-speed taxi on runway 18. During the high-speed taxi, the airplane became airborne. The pilot requested a landing clearance and was given one. The pilot reported that he had trouble getting the airplane's nose down. He subsequently told the control tower that he had a MAYDAY. He indicated that he had "no control" of the airplane. He was given a clearance to land on any runway. His last transmission was that he "can't seem to keep the nose down." The airplane was observed by airport rescue and firefighting personnel to come "tail-end down" and then "nose down."
The airplane came to rest about two miles east of DEC in a field near the 7300 block of Ridge Road. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)inspectors examined the wreckage on-scene. The airplane's right wing separated from the fuselage in flight and it came to rest about 285 feet east of the main wreckage. The pilot was found about 63 feet west of the main wreckage. The examination and review of photographs taken of the wreckage revealed the separation was consistent with overload. No other anomalies were detected.
A FAA designated pilot examiner issued the pilot a FAA sport pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating on November 1, 2010, after the pilot had passed his airman examination using the designated examiner's Flightstar IISC airplane. The pilot reported on the application for that sport pilot certificate that he had accumulated a total flight time of 60.7 hours of which 15.2 hours were as pilot-in-command flight time.
N415US was a single-engine, high-wing, experimental amateur-built Southerland Freebird Litesport Ultra airplane. Airworthiness documents indicated the airplane was powered by a Chevy Geo Metro G10 three cylinder 4 stroke engine. A FAA designated airworthiness representative inspected the airplane and issued its special airworthiness certificate on October 15, 2010. The inadvertent flight was the airplane's first flight.
At 1354, the recorded weather at DEC was: Wind 230 degrees at 6 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition few 1,400 feet, overcast 4,300 feet; temperature 1 degree C; dew point -3 degrees C; altimeter 30.17 inches of mercury.
An autopsy was performed on the 55-year-old pilot by the Macon County Coroner's Office. The cause of death was listed as multiple injuries due to an aircraft accident.
The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute prepared a Final Forensic Toxicology Accident Report. The report, in part, stated:
Desmethylsertraline detected in Spleen
Desmethylsertraline detected in Spinal Fluid
Desmethylsertraline detected in Gastric
1.101 (ug/mL, ug/g) Desmethylsertraline detected in Blood (Cavity)
Desmethylsertraline detected in Muscle
Desmethylsertraline detected in Kidney
Desmethylsertraline detected in Vitreous
Desmethylsertraline detected in Brain
Sertraline detected in Gastric
1.323 (ug/mL, ug/g) Sertraline detected in Blood (Cavity)
Sertraline detected in Muscle
Sertraline detected in Kidney
Sertraline detected in Brain
Sertraline detected in Spleen
Sertraline detected in Spinal Fluid
A family member indicated that the pilot was taking an antidepressant for work stress.