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N75474 accident description

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Tail numberN75474
Accident dateJanuary 27, 2008
Aircraft typeUnknown Free Bird Sportlite
LocationMccullough, AL
Near 31.166667 N, -87.525 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On January 27, 2008, about 1630 central standard time, an amateur-built Free Bird Sportlite 103, N75474, was destroyed during impact with terrain near McCullough, Alabama. The non-certificated pilot was killed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR), the pilot owned the accident airplane, but had not yet obtained an FAA sport pilot certificate. The pilot had purchased the airplane from a private individual through the Internet, and the airplane did not come with any manuals. The airplane was two-seat tandem, with the engine mounted on the rear of the high wing. The airplane had a basic empty weight of approximately 500 pounds (lbs), and a maximum gross weight of 900 lbs.

The airplane was equipped with a Two Stroke International model 690L-70 engine. The 70-horsepower engine was the heaviest engine available for the airplane. Due to the engine's weight, it may have created an aft center of gravity (CG) condition for the airplane. Such circumstances would required modification to move the CG forward, prior to the DAR certifying the airplane.

The DAR added that under the provisions of federal aviation regulation (FAR) 21.191, the pilot was in the process of registering and certifying the airplane as an experimental light sport airplane (E-LSA), by a January 31, 2008 deadline. Beyond the deadline, the airplane was no longer eligible for ultralight exemptions under FAR 103. The airplane was registered, but due to the DAR's backlog, it had not yet been inspected and certified by the DAR. Since the airplane was registered prior to the deadline, the certification could be completed after the deadline. As the DAR had not yet inspected and certified the airplane, he did not know its actual CG or airworthiness.

The DAR also owned the flight school where the pilot received instruction. The DAR reported that the minimum flight time requirement for an FAA sport pilot certificate under FAR 61 was 20 hours, and the pilot had accumulated 25 hours of flight instruction, 38 hours of ground instruction, had soloed, and had passed an FAA written examination. The pilot needed to complete a long cross-country flight, and then prepare for and pass a practical test with a designated pilot examiner.

The DAR further stated that several months before the fatal accident, the pilot was involved in a prior accident in the same airplane. The prior accident occurred during a high-speed taxi, in which the airplane accidentally became airborne. The pilot was subsequently advised by the DAR, and his flight instructor, not to fly the airplane until it was certificated, and the pilot received a sport pilot certificate. The DAR stated that all of the pilot's training was conducted in the DAR's flight school airplanes.

An FAA inspector reported that according to a witness, the accident airplane had departed a private turf airstrip near McCullough, and flew around the local area. About 1630, the accident airplane was in the vicinity of a right downwind leg for the east runway, when the airplane impacted a field nose down, and left wing low. The witness did not see the impact, but heard the engine noise increase, decrease, then increase again, followed by the sound of impact.

Most of the airplane was consumed by a postcrash fire; however, the FAA inspector was able to confirm flight control continuity.

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Office of the Medical Examiner, District 1, Pensacola, Florida. According to the autopsy report, the cause of death was "multiple blunt force injuries." The FAA did not perform toxicological testing on the pilot; however, toxicological testing ordered by the Office of the Medical Examiner was negative for drugs and alcohol.

The reported weather at an airport located approximately 20 miles northeast of the accident site, at 1653, was: wind from 330 degrees at 5 knots; visibility 10 miles; sky clear; temperature 13 degrees Celsius (C); dew point 1 degree C; altimeter 30.25 inches of mercury.

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.