On August 2, 2011, about 1110 central daylight time, an unregistered experimental Rans S18 light sport airplane was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain near a private turf airstrip in Fayetteville, Tennessee. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Family members stated that the accident flight was the pilot's first flight in the airplane, but that he had taxied it on the grass airstrip several times in order to familiarize himself with the flight controls.

Two witnesses, located approximately 1/4 mile north of the north-south airstrip, stated that they heard an airplane that "sounded like a crop duster." They then observed the airplane airborne behind trees at the departure [northern] end of the runway, and stated that it appeared to bank sharply to the left, back towards the runway. They lost sight of the airplane, and afterwords, heard the sound of an impact. They also stated that the airplane's engine was running "loudly" until the sound of impact.


The pilot, age 70, held a private pilot certificate. According to the pilot's logbook, his last recorded flight was on August 14, 2005. A family member stated that the pilot's wife had urged him to get some flight instruction prior to flying the airplane by himself, since it had been some time since he had flown; however, the pilot declined to do so. The pilot's latest medical certificate was issued on June 6, 2005, and at the time, he indicated 640 hours of flight time.


The two-seat airplane was powered by a Rotax 503 engine. According supporting documentation, the airplane was purchased during an on-line auction on July 12, 2011, and a bill of sale was signed for it on July 14, 2011. After transport, the airplane was reassembled on the pilot's property. No maintenance logbooks were located; however, the advertisement for sale stated that it had approximately 200 hours of total airframe and engine time, that it had always been hangared, and that it had previously flown under an "ultralight instructor exemption."


The nearest recorded weather was at an airport about 12 nautical miles south of the accident site, about 5 minutes after the accident, and included clear skies and calm wind.


The turf airstrip was mowed into a larger field, and partly indiscernible from its surroundings, oriented about 010/190 degrees magnetic, approximately 1,400 feet long and 50 feet wide.


The airplane came to rest inverted approximately 300 feet east of the airstrip near its southern end, in the vicinity of 35 degrees, 6.29 minutes north latitude, 086 degrees, 32.58 minutes west longitude. Two ground scars were located underneath the wreckage, each measuring about 1 foot in length, and oriented toward 080 degrees magnetic.

The nose and cockpit area exhibited significant fore-to-aft crush damage, and when the airplane was righted, the nose was observed bent upwards about 80 degrees.

The left and right wings, vertical stabilizer, horizontal stabilizer, flaps, ailerons, and elevators remained attached to the airframe. Continuity was confirmed from all flight control surfaces to the cockpit area.

The wooden propeller remained attached to the engine, although one blade was fracture-separated opposite the direction of rotation about one-quarter of its length from the hub. The leading edge of the separated portion of the blade exhibited gouging and chordwise scratching. The propeller rotated freely by hand, and crankshaft continuity as well as thumb compression on both cylinders were confirmed.


An autopsy was conducted on the pilot at the Tennessee Office of the Medical Examiner, Nashville, Tennessee, where the cause of death was determined to be "multiple blunt force injuries."

Subsequent toxicological testing was performed by the FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with the following results:

Amlodipine in blood and urine, diphenhydramine in blood and urine, and rosuvastatin in urine only.

According to the National Institute of Health online reference, amlodipine is used to treat high blood pressure and chest pain, diphenhydramine is used to relieve symptoms of common cold, hay fever or allergies, and rosuvastatin is used to reduce cholesterol and other fatty substances in the blood.

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