WPR12FA155
WPR12FA155

HISTORY OF THE FLIGHT

On April 8, 2012, at 0655 Pacific daylight time, an Extra Flugzeugbau GMBH EA-300, N45R, collided with terrain 2.5 miles east of the Salinas Municipal Airport, Salinas, California. The airplane was registered to Invertical LLC, and operated by the owner under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 91. The commercial pilot and his passenger were fatally injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan had not been filed. The flight originated at the Salinas Airport about 0645.

Witnesses reported being awoken by a low flying airplane. Two witnesses described the airplane as flying between 1,000 and 2,000 feet above the ground (agl) performing aerobatics. One witness stated that he observed the airplane perform two chandelles over the foothills north of his house, then the airplane turned south heading into the open valley. The airplane performed two aileron rolls and was halfway into a third roll when the nose pitched down, then pitched up and rolled so that one wing was pointing down, then simultaneously rolled inverted and pitched down entering a very rapid descent into the ground. Both witnesses that observed the airplane stated that the engine was operating at what sounded like full power throughout the entire event.

Review of radar data obtained from the Northern California TRACON Facility depicted radar targets consistent with the accident airplane’s departure time, estimated altitudes, and location. The initial target began at 0648, at 3,000 feet mean sea level (msl). The target proceeded in a figure eight pattern between 0648 and 0655, operating between 4,000 and 1,500 feet msl. Ground speed data showed the target initially at 168 knots, and operating between 28 and 172 knots. The radar track data was consistent with the performance of aerobatics. The final radar return was at 0655:51, at an altitude of 1,300 feet msl and ground speed of 137 knots.

According to the pilot’s father, the pilot had departed Yuma Saturday morning, April 7, flew to Burbank, California, picked up a friend, and then flew to Fresno, California. He dropped off the friend in Fresno, then flew to Monterey Airport, arriving about 1030. While in Monterey, the pilot visited his father, and told a friend that he would be in Salinas on Sunday and would give him a ride if he came to Salinas. The pilot then flew to Salinas Municipal Airport and spent the evening with his mother. On Sunday morning, the pilot met up with his passenger (friend) and departed on the accident flight.

AIRPLANE INFORMATION

The mid-wing, fixed landing gear, and 2-seat tandem configured airplane, serial number 045, was manufactured in 1993. It was powered by a Lycoming AEIO-540-L185, 235-horsepower engine and equipped with a 3-bladed constant speed MTV-Propeller, model MTV-9-B-C/C200-15. Review of the airplane maintenance logbooks showed an annual inspection performed on March 2, 2012, at a total aircraft time of 1,280.9 hours.

The pilot shared ownership of the airplane with another pilot. The surviving owner told the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC) that they had a Garmin GPSmap 396 that they used for navigation, and it was normally mounted on the glare shield with Velcro. He was not aware of the portable XM radio antenna that was found with the wreckage.

According to the Garmin GXM30 Owner’s Manual, the GXM30 antenna that was located in the airplane wreckage would allow reception of current weather information and display that information on a compatible GPS receiver that the antenna was connected to. The antenna utilized a micro USB connection to connect it to a GPS unit. Printed on the data plate for the GXM30 antenna was the Radio ID Number: VVGTE0MN.

Sirius-XM Satellite Radio provided detailed information to the NTSB IIC regarding the pilot’s account activity. Radio ID number VVGTE0MN was activated on a XM-Aviator Service monthly plan on March 29, 2012.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 32, held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane, issued on December 19, 2007, and possessed a first-class medical certificate with no limitations, dated March 28, 2012. The pilot’s logbook was recovered from the airplane wreckage and examined. The last entry in the logbook was dated June 12, 2009, with a total flight time of 463.5 hours. The pilot was a designated Naval Aviator on active duty with the United States Marine Corps and recently changed his duty station to MCAS Yuma, flying AV-8B Harriers. A USMC squadron, VMA-214, representative reported to the IIC that the pilot had accumulated 373.6 hours of military flight time. He had flown 2.6 hours in the AV-8B and 1.3 hours of simulator time within the previous 90 days, and his most recent military check flight (NATOPS check) was on December 27, 2011.

The passenger, age 24, held a private pilot certificate, with ratings for single engine land, and instrument airplane. He held a first-class medical certificate with no limitations dated October 8, 2007. His family provided copies of his pilot logbook to the NTSB. His most recent logbook entry was dated March 29, 2012, and his total flight time was 196.5 hours. The majority of his flight experience had been in Cessna 152's, Cessna 172's, and Piper PA-28's.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage was located behind a ranch house in a flat, grass covered, horse pasture. Both occupants were located in the cockpit area and were wearing parachutes. The airplane nose section had impacted a cattle fence rail. The left cylinder bank of the engine and propeller hub was imbedded 18 inches into the ground at approximately 30-degree nose down angle. The wing spar was oriented on a bearing of 172-degrees magnetic measured from left wing tip to right wing tip. The main fuselage had collapsed into the ground midspan between the wing spar, and was positioned on its left side above the upper edge of the wing spar. Both upper, lower, left and right wing skins had detached from the wing spar, but the skins were present in the wreckage.

The tail section was attached to the fuselage tubing. The rudder was attached to the vertical stabilizer. The top and leading edge of the vertical stabilizer were crushed inwards. The elevator was attached to the horizontal stabilizer. The skin of the left horizontal stabilizer had detached from the spar, and the spar was fractured vertically at the root. Crush damage of the stabilizer tip and leading edge were evident. The right horizontal stabilizer leading edge was mostly straight with a softball sized crush indentation at midspan. Located within the tail section, near the elevator bell crank, a Garmin GMX30, 4.5-inch diameter round puck-like antenna and attached connecting cable was found free and loose. The following information was on the antenna data plate: GXM30, 010-00423-00, XM RADIO ID: FCC- VVGTE0MN, SN 28416097. A section of the black antenna cable near the antenna exhibited abrasions, cuts, and twist deformation that revealed the blue and white colored wires contained within the cable sheath. The free end of the antenna cable consisted of a micro USB connection that was undamaged. The antenna had a 9mm diameter semicircular indentation witness mark that was consistent in shape and size to the end of a 9mm diameter bolt that attached the forward spar of the vertical stabilizer to the fuselage frame, located directly above the elevator bell crank. The portable Garmin GPSmap 396 GPS unit that the antenna would have connected to was not located in the airplane wreckage

The cockpit was completely fragmented. Engine control configuration could not be established. The rear seat was attached to the airframe structure and the front seat had separated from the airframe. Aileron control push/pull tubes were traced from the control surfaces to the cockpit through multiple overload fractures. Elevator control push-pull tubes were traced from the elevator horn to the cockpit via multiple overload fractures and buckling. Rudder cables were attached to the rudder horn, and the cables were traced to both sets of rudder pedals. The rudder cables were cut in multiple locations by the first responders.

The Lycoming AEIO-540 engine was intact. The left cylinder bank exhibited impact damage. Throttle and mixture linkages on the throttle body were attached, however, the throttle and mixture cables had been severed between the cockpit and throttle body. The oil sump was displaced from the bottom of the engine and had a 2-inch diameter hole on the right side. No holes were observed on the engine case halves, and the exhaust manifold exhibited flattening and folds consistent with ductile deformation. Induction tubes had detached from the induction manifold. The propeller hub remained attached to the front of the engine.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot on April 9, 2012, by the Monterey County Forensic Pathologist. The Forensic Pathologist’s report states the cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries. The FAA’s Forensic Toxicology Research Team CAMI performed forensic toxicology on specimens from the pilot, which resulted in negative findings for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, and selected drugs.

An autopsy was performed on the pilot-rated passenger on April 19, 2012, by the Monterey County Forensic Pathologist. The Forensic Pathologist report stated that the cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries. The FAA’s Forensic Toxicology Research Team CAMI performed forensic toxicology on specimens from the pilot-rated passenger, which resulted in negative findings for ethanol and selected drugs. Tests for carbon monoxide and cyanide were not performed.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The most recent maintenance on the airplane was done at Harvey & Rihn Aviation, La Porte, Texas, on March 2, 2012. A company representative stated that they had overhauled the engine and rigged the controls of the airplane. The representative had flown the airplane three times. She performed tumbles, spins, accelerated spins, and thought the airplane flew great. She also had flown with the accident pilot three times, practicing landings, Immelmans, and split-s maneuvers. She did not recall the airplane having a Garmin GPS or XM radio antenna installed.

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