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N8125R accident description

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Tail numberN8125R
Accident dateJune 30, 2003
Aircraft typeAero Vodochody Aero Works L39C
LocationGadsden, AL
Near 33.9725 N, -86.088889 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On June 30, 2003, at 1533 central daylight time, an Aero Vodochody L39C experimental jet airplane, N8125R, registered to Jet Team LLC and operated by the commercial pilot, lost engine power, and collided with the ground during takeoff from Gadsden Municipal Airport, Gadsden, Alabama. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 with an instrument flight plan filed. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed. The pilot ejected from the airplane and received fatal injuries, and the airplane was destroyed by post-impact fire. The flight was originating from Gadsden, Alabama, at the time of the accident on June 30, 2003.

The flight was departing runway 6 en route to Muskegon, Michigan, where the airplane is based. A witness at the airport reported the airplane had arrived the previous day and the pilot and airplane participated in media interviews the day of the accident. The airplane received no maintenance at the airport facilities. Witnesses reported heavy rain and thunderstorms arriving in the area near the time of departure, and a brief period of heavy rain occurred during the startup and taxi of the jet. A witness in a parking lot adjacent to the runway watched the airplane's takeoff roll and stated he saw what looked like birds or debris in the air around the airplane as soon as it lifted off the runway. He then heard a "thump, thump" noise, followed by engine whining. The witness reported the airplane continued airborne, appeared to struggle back and forth, then it veered left and descended. The witness estimated the airplane was at an approximate 90-degree angle and no more than 50 feet above the ground when the pilot ejected. The airplane then collided with the ground and caught fire, and the witness and others rushed to the site to help.

Examination of the accident site found the fire-damaged airplane in a grassy area north of runway 6, approximately 300 to 400 yards from the east end of the runway. Portions of the fuselage and wings were consumed by fire. The ejection seat was found approximately 200 to 300 feet north of the airplane. The seat parachute was deployed and the parachute canopy was not open. Examination of the runway revealed a fabric briefcase, numerous papers, and other objects that had been stowed in the nose compartment of the airplane were found on the runway near the point where the airplane rotated.

The upper portion of the nose compartment and the left and right access panels for the nose compartment were found separated on the ground. The left access panel for the nose compartment was found separated from the airframe with the upper hinges absent. The left panel displayed fire damage and extensive crush deformation with the fasteners on the panel lower edge attached. The right access panel for the nose compartment was found attached at the upper hinges to the upper nose compartment structure. The right panel and nose compartment structure displayed no fire damage and exhibited minor bending deformation and scratches in the paint. The fasteners on the right panel lower edge were absent.

The Gadsden Municipal Airport automated weather observation system reported at 1535 winds were from 210 degrees at 10 knots, visibility 5 statute miles with thunderstorms, ceilings broken at 100 feet above ground level, broken at 900 feet above ground level, and overcast at 2,700 feet above ground level. The report contained remarks as follows: lightning distant in the east, thunderstorms began at 1527.

According to a chart published by Czech Jet, for single-seat ejection from the aircraft, the lowest minimum altitude for ejection with 90 degrees of bank is approximately 1,100 feet above the ground, and the lowest minimum altitude for ejection with zero degrees of bank is less than zero feet above the ground.

Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the Federal Aviation Administration Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The report stated no carbon monoxide, no cyanide, and no ethanol were detected in the blood. The report stated 0.259 (ug/mL, ug/g) fluoxetine was detected in the blood, fluoxetine was present in the urine, 0.397 (ug/mL, ug/g) norfluoxetine was detected in the blood, and norfluoxetine was present in the urine.

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