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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: ERA16FA168
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, April 24, 2016 in Belton, SC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/23/2018
Aircraft: RYSKAMP BRUCE A ACRODUSTER, registration: N380JA
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot was returning to the airport from a local personal flight. The airplane completed two low approaches and then made a left turn to reenter the traffic pattern. Two witnesses reported that, when the airplane was on the downwind leg of the traffic pattern, the engine sound changed; one reported that the engine sputtered and "cut out." The airplane then banked left and pitched nose down before impacting the ground, consistent with an aerodynamic stall. The propeller governor was examined, and no pre-impact anomalies were noted. The examination noted scrape marks on the propeller governor. According to the manufacturer, the scrape marks were made when the gears were turning opposite the direction of normal rotation, indicating that the propeller was not rotating to propel the airplane forward when the marks were made. An examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of pre-impact mechanical malfunctions or failures; however, extensive thermal damage precluded a detailed examination. Additionally, the airplane's fuel state prior to the accident could not be accurately determined.

Toxicological testing identified 0.024 ug/ml of diphenhydramine in heart blood and detected diphenhydramine in urine. The postmortem blood diphenhydramine level was below the therapeutic range, which suggests that the pilot's level was likely below therapeutic and impairing levels at the time of the crash. Therefore, it is unlikely that the pilot's use of diphenhydramine at some time before the accident flight contributed to the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • A loss of engine power for reasons that could not be determined due to extensive postcrash fire damage. Also causal was the pilot's loss of airplane control, resulting in an aerodynamic stall and subsequent impact with terrain.