ERA11LA208
ERA11LA208

On March 19, 2011, at 1255 eastern daylight time, an unregistered, experimental amateur-built, Jennings Mini Max airplane collided with trees during takeoff from a private residence in Clinton, South Carolina. The flight was operating under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The airplane sustained structural damage to the airframe and wings. The non-certificated pilot was fatally injured. The flight was originating from the private residence at the time of the accident.

A witness reported to the local authorities that she was taking pictures of the pilot and his airplane prior to takeoff. She said that the motor sounded good during the takeoff, and as the airplane began to climb, the left wing hit a small tree. The airplane then tilted to the left and collided with trees before crashing into the ground. She ran over to the crashed airplane and checked to see if the pilot was breathing. She started CPR and continued until local emergency personnel arrived.

The pilot, age 71, was a non-certificated pilot, and did not hold an airman medical certificate. The pilot's logbook was not recovered for examination; therefore his flight time could not be determined. According to the pilot’s wife, the pilot had been flying for more than 25 years, and the airplane was his third or fourth kit airplane. She went on to say that he had been building this airplane for approximately one year and decided to fly that day.

A review of recorded data from the Laurens, South Carolina (LUX) automated weather observation station revealed that at 1255 conditions were winds 7 knots, visibility of 10 miles, cloud conditions broken at 11,000 feet above ground level, temperature 26 degrees Celsius, dew point 13 degrees Celsius, altimeter 30.22 inches of mercury. LUX is located about 10 miles east of the accident site.

An examination of the accident site by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector under direction of the NTSB revealed that the takeoff area was located adjacent to the pilot’s home. The takeoff area had 150 yards of cleared trees with 100 foot trees on both ends of the clearing. The left wing impacted a tree approximately 20 feet off of the ground, shearing off about half of the wing. The airplane impacted larger trees before colliding with the ground.

Examination of the airframe and flight control system components revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction. Examination of the engine revealed that it was still attached to the firewall, but the firewall was separated from the airframe. The propeller remained attached to the crankshaft, and both wooden propeller blades were splintered at the hub. Examination of the recovered engine and system components revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction. Maintenance records were not available for review.

An autopsy was performed on the pilot on March 21, 2011, by Pathology Associates of Greenville, Greenville, South Carolina, as authorized by the Laurens County Coroner. The autopsy findings included "multiple blunt force injuries," and the report listed the specific injuries. The cause of death was reported as two of the listed injuries.

Forensic toxicology was performed by a private lab on specimens from the pilot. The NMS Labs, Willow Grove, Pennsylvania report stated no ethanol was detected in the liver or the muscle, and no drugs were detected in the liver.

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