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On May 4, 2011, at 1142 central daylight time, a Thomas Europa experimental amateur built airplane, N914KM, impacted a field shortly after takeoff from Shreveport Downtown Airport (KDTN), Shreveport, Louisiana. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings, the fuselage, and empennage. The airplane was registered to 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, which operated without a flight plan. The local flight originated from KDTN at 1137.
According to the Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office, a local resident discovered the wreckage in an open field on private property. There were no witnesses to the accident.
Radar data, provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), identified and depicted the accident flight from the time of departure from KDTN to the time of the accident. The airplane initially climbed from 700 feet mean sea level (msl), to 1,200 feet msl on a north, northeasterly heading. At 1140:36, the airplane started to descend. The last recorded position of the airplane was time stamped at 1141:59 at an altitude of 200 feet msl, a ground speed of 76 knots, and a heading of 350 degrees.
According to a summary of the flight, provided by the FAA, the pilot requested taxi instructions at 1134, a takeoff clearance at 1137, and the controller issued a frequency change at 1142. There was no response from the pilot. Recordings of the voice communications were not available.
The pilot, age 71, held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land rating. He was issued a third class airman medical certificate on September 3, 2010. The certificate contained the limitation "must wear corrective lenses for near and distant vision."
The pilot's family provided the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge the pilot's flight log for review. This flight log represented the dates of December 7, 1985, through April 28, 2011. A review of the logbook indicated that the pilot had logged no less than 283.2 hours; 27.6 hours of which were logged in the accident airplane. The pilot had successfully completed the requirements of a flight review on April 23, 2009.
The accident airplane, a Thomas Europa (serial number 1), was manufactured in 1999. It was registered with the FAA on a special airworthiness certificate for experimental amateur-built operations. A Rotax 912 UL engine rated at 80 horsepower powered the airplane. The engine was equipped with a Warp Drive 3-blade propeller.
The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot, and was maintained under a conditional inspection program. A review of the maintenance records indicated that a conditional inspection had been completed on June 26, 2010, at an airframe total time of 243.0 hours. The airplane had flown approximately 46.3 hours between the last inspection and the accident and had a total airframe time of 289.3 hours.
An airframe logbook entry dated June 4 and June 19, 2010, discussed that the trim was occasionally "sticking." There were no other logbook entries after this discussing problems with the trim.
The closest official weather observation station was Shreveport Regional Airport (KSHV), Shreveport, Louisiana. The elevation of the weather observation station was 258 feet msl. The routine aviation weather report (METAR) for KSHV, issued at 1056 reported, winds variable at 5 knots, visibility 10 miles, few clouds at 3,000 feet, scattered clouds at 30,000 feet, temperature 21 degrees Celsius (C), dew point temperature 08 degrees C, altimeter 30.39 inches.
The accident airplane was equipped with a Bendix King AV8OR handheld global positioning system (GPS) unit. The unit was sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Lab in Washington D.C. for download. There was no recorded data available for the accident flight. The last recorded information was associated with a flight on October 30, 2010.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The accident site was located in level terrain vegetated with short grass and tall deciduous trees. The trees directly adjacent from the wreckage were free from evidence of contact with the airplane. The accident site was at an elevation of 199 feet msl, and came to rest on a north/northeast heading.
The main wreckage consisted of the fuselage, empennage, both wings, and the engine. One long narrow ground scar was located just forward of the right wing and was approximately 16 feet in length and contained white paint chips consistent with the paint on the leading edge of the right wing. The only other ground scar was located directly under the engine and was circular in shape.
The fuselage included the engine assembly, cabin, and instrument panel. The windscreen was fragmented. The cabin area, including both the left and right seats, was crushed up and the engine was crushed aft into the cabin reducing the occupiable space. The fuselage was crushed along the bottom and partially separated at three locations.
The left wing remained attached at the fuselage and included the left aileron and the left flap assembly. The leading edge of the wing was crushed and splintered. The left aileron was partially separated from the left wing and remained attached to the flight control tube. Flight control continuity to the left aileron was confirmed. The left flap position could not be determined.
The right wing remained partially attached at the fuselage and included the right aileron and the right flap assembly. The leading edge of the right wing was crushed and broken. The right aileron was crushed at the inboard leading edge. Flight control continuity to the right aileron was confirmed. The right flap was buckled four feet inboard from the outboard edge. The right flap position could not be determined.
The empennage was partially separated from the fuselage and included the horizontal and vertical stabilizer, rudder, and elevators. The rudder control cables were continuous from the flight control yoke aft to the rudder assembly. The elevator control tube was buckled just aft of the cabin but was otherwise continuous from the flight control yoke aft to the elevator control bell crank. The tube separated from the bell crank with signatures consistent with overload. The horizontal and vertical stabilizers were unremarkable.
The engine remained attached to the firewall. All three propeller blades separated from the engine. One propeller blade was found several hundred feet to the west of the main wreckage and was splintered and broken. The second propeller blade was found embedded in the ground directly beneath the main wreckage. The third propeller blade was located adjacent the left wing. Continuity to the accessory gears, and valve train was established, and tactile compression was noted on all cylinders. The engine was full of oil dark in color. The spark plugs exhibited normal signatures when compared to the Champion spark plug chart.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center performed the autopsy on the pilot on May 5, 2011, as authorized by the Caddo Parish Coroner's office. The autopsy concluded that the cause of death was blunt force injuries and the report listed the specific injuries.
The FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological tests on specimens that were collected during the autopsy (CAMI Reference #201100083001). Results were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ethanol. A trace amount of metoprolol was detected in the urine and blood.
The pilot reported taking metoprolol on his last application for his airman medical certificate. This prescription medication is a selective beta1-adrenoreceptor blocking agent used to treat high blood pressure, angina, and control heart rate in some arrhythmias.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The NTSB IIC removed and retained the elevator trim motor for further examination. Examination of the trim motor revealed its position to be in the full nose up position. Functional testing of the unit revealed no anomalies.