On February 6, 2011, at 1645 central standard time, an experimental amateur-built light sport, Belcher Kolb Firestar, N43341, registered to a private owner, entered a spin and collided with trees and the ground, while maneuvering in the vicinity of a private airfield (Cunningham) in West Blocton, Alabama. The personal flight was operating under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and no flight plan was filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and the airplane sustained structural damage to the airframe and wings. The student pilot received serious injuries. The flight originated from the private airfield at an about 1644. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The student pilot stated he was on climbout and made a right turn and leveled out, when the right wing dropped down. His airspeed was about 50 mph and the airplane entered a spin and collided with trees and the ground.
Witnesses at the private airfield stated they observed the airplane make a low pass down the runway. Upon reaching the end of the runway, the airplane started a steep climb estimated between 45 degrees or greater at a slow airspeed. The right wing dropped, the airplane stalled, entered a spin, and disappeared from view behind a tree line. The witnesses stated the engine was running until it disappeared from view.
The student pilot, who was also the registered owner of the airplane, did not provided the NTSB investigator or the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector with his current student pilot certificate, pilot logbook with current endorsements, current airworthiness certificate, aircraft registration, current operating specifications, or the airplane logbooks for review.
Examination of the crash site showed the airplane was located in a wooded area about 1/4 mile southwest of the private airfield. The airplane came to rest upright on a heading of 045 degrees magnetic. The HOBBS meter at the accident site showed 2,683 hours.
The engine assembly remained attached to the engine mounts and had been displaced forward into the cabin area. All propeller blades remained attached to the propeller hub, which remained attached to the crankshaft flange. The propeller blade tips on two of the three propeller blades had separated. The main and auxiliary fuel tanks were not ruptured and contained 4 gallons of automotive fuel. The instrument panel was separated from the airframe. The throttle was in the idle position. Continuity of the flight controls was confirmed to all flight control surfaces. The right main landing gear was not damaged and remained attached to the airframe. The left main landing gear was separated and attached to the airframe by a brake cable.
The welded steel tubing fuselage and doped fabric, from the nose section extending aft to the engine compartment, received structural damage. The windscreen was destroyed. The cabin seat bottom back was collapsed forward. The tandem passenger seat was destroyed. The seatbelts and shoulder harness for the pilot and lapbelt for the passenger seat were present and not damaged. According to witnesses who responded to the crash site, the student pilot was wearing the seatbelt and shoulder harness. The emergency locator transmitter (ELT) antenna and coax cable was not attached to the ELT.
The right wing remained attached to the tubular steel cabin area and was bent upward 20 degrees and pushed aft. Several tree branches were protruding through the doped fabric. The leading edge of the right wing was damaged from the wing root, extending outboard to the wing tip. No flaps were installed. The right one-quarter of the upper and lower section of the wing was separated and was lodged in the trees. The right wing strut was separated from the wing and fuselage attachment point. The tubular wing spar was not damaged.
The aluminum tail boom was bent down 10 degrees and 5 degrees to the left. The tail boom was fractured about 18 inches outboard of the aft fuselage. The left and right horizontal stabilizer, stabilator, vertical fin and rudder were not damaged.
The left wing separated at the wing root, accelerated forward, and was folded aft over the cabin area about 140 degrees. The doped fabric had been torn in several places. The leading edge of the left wing was damaged at mid-span, extending outboard in numerous places. The left wing tip was damaged. The left aileron was intact and not damaged. The left wing strut was attached at the fuselage attachment point and separated from the wing attachment point and bent 90 degrees.
The airplane was recovered to the private airfield and secured. An engine examination and engine-run was conducted by a representative from the engine manufacturer, under the supervision of an FAA inspector. The damaged propeller was removed and the exhaust system was reinstalled. The air filers were not reinstalled on the carburetors, in order to establish throttle control by moving the piston (slides) up and down by hand. The engine was started by pulling on the pull start several times and by using the existing fuel in the carburetor float-bowls. The engine ran for a few minutes until the fuel in the float-bowls ran out. The carburetor float-bowls were removed and fresh fuel with a 50:1 oil mixture was poured into them. The engine was restarted for a second time. The engine ran at varying rpm settings by moving the piston (slides) with no anomalies noted.
Review of Kolb Firestar II Performance data revealed the airplane will stall at 27/35 miles per hour with a Rotax 503 series engine installed.
Post accident hospital laboratory specimens from the student pilot were obtained through a subpoena and forwarded to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Bioaeronautical Research Science Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for toxicology screening. Testing was not conducted for carbon monoxide or cyanide. No ethanol was detected in the blood. Methadone, (0.089 ug/ml, ug/g), and Nordiazepam were present in the blood.
The student pilot stated in an interview on March 4, 2011, that he was taking Methadone and Phentermine at the time of the accident. In a subsequent interview on June 17, 2011, the student pilot stated he had been prescribed diet pills including Phentermine (30 mg once a day) and Methadone (60 mg once a day), due to a bulging disk in his back, which had to be fused. In addition, he was taking an anti-anxiety medication/sleep aide. He could not remember if he took the anti-anxiety/sleep aide medication the night before the accident or 2 days before the accident. The student pilot stated he is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 230 pounds.