On February 19, 2012, about 1330 central standard time, an amateur-built Crain BD-4 airplane, N215BD, impacted the ground following a loss of control near Clarinda, Iowa. The private pilot, who was the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed during the impact. The aircraft was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated from the Schenck Field Airport (ICL), Clarinda, Iowa, about 1249.

Data retrieved from a global positioning system (GPS) receiver that was on-board the airplane indicated that the airplane departed from ICL about 1249. The data showed that, after takeoff from runway 20, the airplane made a climbing left turn and headed north toward the town of Villisca, Iowa. The airplane leveled off after reaching about 3,000 feet altitude above mean sea level (msl). Prior to reaching Viscilla, the airplane turned northeast and flew toward Corning, Iowa, and after passing Corning, the airplane turned to the right and headed southwest back toward ICL. As the airplane approached ICL, it began a descent and passed over the airport heading in a west-southwest direction. The airplane’s recorded altitude and speed when it passed over the airport were about 2,600 feet msl, and 140 knots (161 mph) respectively. The data showed that the airplane then began a left turn back toward the approach end of runway 2 at ICL. The last recorded data point, at 1330:15, placed the airplane about 1.2 miles and 237 degrees from the approach end of the runway. Based on the last two recorded positions, the airplane was descending at a rate of 60 foot per minute at 115 knots (132 mph) on a heading of 351 degrees. The last recorded GPS position was almost directly above the accident site. The 41-minute flight covered approximately 60 nautical miles.

Witnesses reported seeing the airplane in a steep descent prior to striking the ground, but they did not report seeing the airplane prior to the steep descent.


The 53-year old pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single-engine land airplane rating. He was issued a third-class airman medical certificate, with a restriction for corrective lenses, on February 17, 2011.

According to the pilot’s flight logbook, the pilot accumulated 93 hours total flight time. The last page of entries indicated that the pilot had logged approximately 10 hours flight time in the accident airplane since September 2011. The most recent entry in the logbook was dated January 8, 2012.


The accident airplane was an amateur-built BD-4, serial number 215. It was a four-place, strut braced high wing airplane, with a tricycle landing gear configuration. The airplane was built by the owner/pilot and received a Special Airworthiness Certificate on August 9, 2005. The airplane was powered by a 180-horsepower Lycoming model IO-360-A1A four-cylinder, reciprocating engine.

According to information from the airplane designer’s website, the BD-4B, an updated version of the accident airplane, had a stall speed of 61 mph with flaps retracted and 55 mph with the flaps extended.

According to maintenance records, the airplane had accumulated 48.58 hours total time in service as of the last condition inspection dated December 15, 2011.


Weather conditions recorded at ICL, at 1024, were: wind from 180 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 10 miles, clear skies, temperature 7 degrees Celsius, dew point -5 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 30.08 inches of mercury.


The airplane impacted a harvested farm field about 1.2 miles southwest of ICL. The nose wheel and propeller were buried into the ground. The fuselage from the firewall to the aft fuselage was fragmented. The tail surfaces remained attached to the aft fuselage with their hinges intact. Both wings separated from the fuselage and exhibited crushing consistent with a near vertical impact. The wreckage was removed from the accident site and examined at a later date.

Postaccident examination of the engine confirmed valve train continuity, valve action, and engine rotation. The magnetos were examined and one was able to produce spark on all leads when rotated. The other magneto would not produce spark when rotated. This magneto exhibited impact damage to the external case and was disassembled. It was found that the internal ignition point assembly had fractured and was not allowing the points to open and close properly. The remaining components of the magneto appeared undamaged and functional.

Examination of the airframe confirmed the presence of all flight control surfaces. The ailerons and flaps had separated from their respective wing panels. The fuselage cabin section was fragmented and the instrument panel was crushed and deformed. Examination of the control system was unable to confirm control system continuity due to the extensive damage; however, the examined components exhibited no failures that were determined to have existed prior to impact.


An autopsy of the pilot was performed by the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner, Ankeny, Iowa, on February 20, 2012. The pilot's death was attributed to injuries received in the accident.

Toxicology testing was performed by the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute. Testing results were negative for all substances in the screening profile.

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