ERA11LA496
ERA11LA496

On September 18, 2011, about 1721 central daylight time, an amateur-built, experimental light sport (E-LSA) Aero Adventure Zephyr II airplane, N3577F, operated by a private individual, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain during takeoff from Sylacauga Municipal Airport (SCD), Sylacauga, Alabama. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the planned local flight.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the pilot had removed pontoons from the airplane and installed a tricycle landing gear. To compensate for the subsequent tail-heavy condition, the pilot utilized an elevator trim tab extension; however, for the accident takeoff, the extension was left in the pilot's hangar and not installed on the airplane. During takeoff roll on runway 27, as the airplane became airborne, it nosed over and impacted a grassy area to the right, between the runway and taxiway. The airplane came to rest in the grassy area in a nose-down attitude.

The FAA inspector added that a witness, who was watching airplanes from behind the airport fence, reported the accident law enforcement. The witness observed the accident airplane take off normally and climb out; however, the left wing then went straight up and right wing dropped suddenly. The airplane impacted the ground along the right side of the runway.

Another FAA inspector examined the wreckage and confirmed flight control continuity from the cockpit control stick to all flight control surfaces. He did not attempt to start the engine as the fuel bowl was damaged during impact; however, he rotated the propeller by hand and confirmed continuity throughout the engine.

The pilot, age 63, held a private pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane. He also held an LSA repairman certificate. The pilot's most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on October 27, 2003. The pilot applied for another third-class medical certificate on May 9, 2011; however, the medical application was deferred for review due to a history of coronary artery disease, hypertension, lymphoma, and diabetes. At that time, the pilot reported a total flight experience of 2,500 hours. The pilot and aircraft logbooks were not recovered.

An autopsy was performed on the pilot on September 21, 2011, by the University of Alabama, Department of Pathology, Birmingham, Alabama.

Review of the autopsy report revealed, "Based on his clinical history and autopsy findings, he had an acute myocardial infarction leading to fatal arrhythmia, which likely led to the plane crash."

Toxicological testing was performed on the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Review of the toxicology report revealed:

"Metoprolol detected in Urine
Metoprolol detected in Blood (Cavity)
Ticlopidine detected in Urine
Ticlopidine detected in Blood (Cavity)…
Glucose NOT detected in Vitreous
3000 (mg/dl ) Glucose detected in Urine
4.8 (%) Hemoglobin A1C detected in Blood (Cavity)"

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