ERA12LA364
ERA12LA364

On May 26, 2012, about 1630 eastern daylight time, an experimental light-sport Dragonfly, N56FP, operated by a private individual, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while maneuvering, shortly after takeoff from Lookout Mountain Airport (0GE3), Trenton, Georgia. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the personal local flight that was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the airplane departed 0GE3 without incident, climbed to an altitude of about 350 to 400 feet above ground level, and flew to a nearby ridgeline to evaluate wind conditions for hang-gliding flights, which were operated from the airport. Witnesses reported that the airplane looked slow as it flew parallel to the ridgeline and subsequently entered a left spiraling dive. One witness stated that the airplane made two 360-degree turns and he heard the engine "operating normally" before it impacted trees. The airplane's fuselage and both wings were substantially damaged.

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1998, from "spare or salvaged parts," and equipped with a Rotax 914 series, 115-horsepower engine. In addition, it was equipped with a Ballistic Recovery Systems (BRS) airframe parachute system.

Examination of the airframe and engine by an FAA inspector did not reveal any mechanical malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation. The inspector noted that all three propeller blades were fractured and displayed rotational signatures. The BRS parachute system was in the armed for flight position; however, it had not been activated, and was discharged by recovery personnel.

The pilot, age 45, held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for multiengine airplane land and sea. He also held a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land and a private pilot certificate with a rating for gliders. The pilot reported 3,000 hours of total flight experience on his most recent application for an FAA second-class medical certificate, which was issued with no limitations, on January 15, 1993.

The pilot's logbook was not recovered. According to the operator, the pilot was very familiar with the accident airplane and had been flying it regularly during the previous 2 years.

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Division of Forensic Sciences. The autopsy report revealed the pilot's cause of death as injuries consistent with "blunt force trauma." In addition, the medical examiner reported the absence of significant gross natural disease and no focal myocardial lesions observed during internal examination.

Toxicological testing performed on the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was negative for alcohol and positive for an undetermined amount of Losartan, an antihypertensive medication.

The airplane was issued a special airworthiness certificate as an experimental light-sport aircraft on November 28, 2007. Review of maintenance records revealed that the airplane's most recent condition inspection was performed on April 5, 2012, at an airplane total time of about 3,415 total hours, and an engine total time of 555 hours. The operator stated that the airplane had been flying regularly since the inspection, with no anomalies reported.

Winds reported at an airport located about 14 miles northeast of 0GE3, around the time of the accident, were from 40 degrees at 6 knots.

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