CEN11LA194
CEN11LA194

On February 15, 2011, approximately 1630 eastern standard time, a Taylorcraft DCO-65 airplane, N46089, sustained substantial damage when it impacted terrain following a loss of control while maneuvering near Americus, Indiana. The commercial pilot sustained fatal injuries and passenger sustained serious injuries. The airplane was registered to a private individual and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and a flight plan was not filed. The local flight departed the Purdue University Airport (LAF), Lafayette, Indiana, at 1608.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector who interviewed the passenger, the passenger met the pilot at the airport prior to the local flight. The pilot performed a preflight walk-around inspection and added three gallons of fuel to each wing fuel tank. In addition, the pilot added an unknown amount of oil to the engine.

The airplane departed the airport from runway 10 in a eastbound direction and climbed to 1,500 feet. The passenger was unsure whether 1,500 feet was mean sea level or above ground level. The pilot then flew north following a river towards a friend's lake. At some point, the flight headed back in a eastbound direction, when the pilot executed a turn (the passenger did not recall the direction of the turn) back towards the west to return to the airport. During the turn, the pilot stated, "oh my god" and the airplane nose dropped and the airplane descended straight down. The airplane impacted wooded terrain and came to rest in a nose down vertical attitude against some trees.

Examination of the airplane by a FAA inspector revealed the forward fuselage was crushed, the wings were bent and buckled, and the engine was partially separated. Flight control continuity was established to all flight control surfaces. Several cuts, consistent with the airplane propeller, were noted on an adjacent tree. There was no evidence of mechanical malfunction or failure with the engine or airframe.

A portable global positioning system (GPS) unit was located in the airplane and forwarded to the NTSB vehicle recorders laboratory for data extraction. The data extraction determined the unit was not powered during the accident flight.

The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed in October 2010, at a total airframe time of approximately 1,100 hours.

The pilot's family reported the pilot had accumulated approximately 500 hours total flight time, and the airplane owner reported the pilot had approximately 30 hours in the accident airplane.

The pilot succumbed to the injuries he sustained during the accident on February 26, 2011. An autopsy and toxicological tests were not performed.

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