WPR11FA153
WPR11FA153

On March 4, 2011, about 1317 Pacific standard time, an experimental amateur built Volin Kitfox Classic IV, N4374K, sustained substantial damage when it impacted terrain near the Myrtle Creek Airport (16S), Myrtle Creek, Oregon. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot, the sole occupant of the airplane, was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight. The cross-country flight was originating at the time of the accident with an intended destination of North Bend, Oregon.

In a written statement, the pilot reported that when he initially landed at 16S, the wind was favoring runway 21. During the landing roll, he "felt a push from the rear of the [air]plane like the wind had changed directions." After taxiing the airplane to the parking area, he noticed that the wind had shifted and was favoring runway 3. The pilot then secured the airplane and went inside the airport terminal area. Several minutes later, the pilot returned to the airplane, conducted a pre-flight inspection, and noted nothing abnormal with the airplane.

The pilot taxied to the run up area for runway 3 and conducted an engine run up, noting the wind sock was aligned directly down the runway. Shortly after that, the pilot announced his intentions for departure over the common traffic advisory frequency as he observed the windsock shift directions momentarily to 90-degrees to the runway then back to being aligned with the runway direction. The pilot stated that he then initiated his takeoff roll. Following a normal lift off, he conducted a scan of the engine instruments, observing an engine rpm of 2,890 and climb rate of about 850 feet per minute while ascending through an altitude of 1,150 feet mean sea level (msl). About 5 to 10 seconds after his initial instrument scan, the airplane "was hit by a gust of wind from the left side of the [air]plane that turned the [air]plane perpendicular." The pilot further stated that he corrected to wings level and felt that the airplane was losing lift. He noted that at this point, the airplane had lost about 200 feet of altitude and he saw two large pine trees directly in front of the airplane. The pilot initiated a left turn "into where the wind came from looking for lift."

The pilot began looking for an area to land and located an open grassy area to the left of his position on the other side of several smaller trees. As the airplane continued to lose altitude, he observed a red engine warning light illuminate. Subsequently, the airplane struck a group of small trees and descended into the ground. He stated that from the time of the wind gust to the impact with the ground was approximately 8 seconds. He added that "as to the cause of the crash, I cannot say if it was a wind anomaly or mechanical failure."

During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) the afternoon of the accident, the pilot said that the airplane was ascending through about 300 feet above ground level (agl) when the left wing lifted abruptly, rolling the airplane into an approximately 90-degree right bank, and that the airplane began to descend. The pilot was able to return the airplane to a level attitude; however, despite his control inputs, he was unable to arrest the descent. The pilot further reported in a separate telephone conversation, he thought the red light he observed may have been an "engine over rev warning light."

Local law enforcement reported that the airplane came to rest in a vertical attitude. The engine appeared to be compressed aft into the cabin area. The left and right wing leading edges were crushed aft. The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

Examination of the recovered airframe revealed that flight control continuity was established throughout the airplane from the cockpit controls to all primary flight controls. Continuity of the pitot system was established from the left wing to the airspeed indicator within the instrument panel.

Examination of the recovered engine revealed that all four cylinders remained attached to the crankcase. The carburetor was separated from its mount. All eight spark plugs were removed from the engine. The engine crankshaft was rotated by hand using the propeller. Thumb compression was noted on all four cylinders and rotational continuity was established throughout the engine and valve train. Impact damage was noted to the left ignition distributor. The right ignition distributor was intact and undamaged.

The wooden propeller assembly remained attached to the crankshaft propeller flange. One of the wooden propeller blades was separated at the blade root. The other propeller blade remained attached intact.

No mechanical anomalies were observed with the recovered airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.

Review of recorded weather information from the Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) located at the Roseburg Regional Airport, about 14 miles north of the accident site revealed at 1253, wind was from 170 degrees at 7 knots, gusting to 19 knots. At 1353, the ASOS recorded wind from 180 degrees at 13 knots, gusting to 26 knots.

The reported elevation for 16S was 619 feet msl.

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