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N437BN accident description

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Tail numberN437BN
Accident dateMay 15, 2002
Aircraft typeNolan RV-4
LocationJonesboro, AR
Near 35.831945 N, -90.646111 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On May 15, 2002, approximately 1738 central daylight time, a Nolan RV-4 single-engine airplane was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a loss of engine power during cruise flight near Jonesboro, Arkansas. The airplane was owned and operated by a private individual under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The non-instrument rated private pilot was fatally inured and his passenger received serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight, and a flight plan was not filed. The airplane departed from a private airstrip approximately 1730.

Witnesses at or near the airport reported that the aircraft departed the airstrip to the south after picking up a passenger who was seated in the aft seat of the tandem configured homebuilt airplane. According to witnesses, the airplane made a left turn after takeoff and was later observed on a left downwind for the departure runway. While on downwind, witnesses reported engine popping sounds and observed the airplane descent behind trees.

The 5,800-hour pilot was reported to be the owner and builder of the 1991 model airplane. The total time on the airplane and the date of the last inspection could not be determined.

The airplane was based at the Nolan Airport (69M) which is located about 5 miles southeast of Jonesboro. The Nolan Airport is a private airport featuring a single 1,350 foot long, by 90 foot wide turf runway. The runway is oriented north and south (18/36).

Local authorities and the FAA inspector, who responded to the site, reported that the main wreckage was found in a fallow rice field approximately 1/2 mile north of the Nolan Airport. The 150-horsepower Lycoming O-320-A2A engine was found separated from the airframe, coming to rest approximately 25 feet from the main wreckage. One blade of the wooden propeller was attached to the hub, and one blade was separated from the hub. Physical evidence was consistent with a post-impact fire. The fuel erupted fire destroyed the inboard left wing area and the front cockpit. The leading edge of the right wing was found crushed aft to the main spar. The position of the wing flaps was not determined at the accident site.

The integrity of the fuel system was compromised. The fuel selector was found on the right tank. Approximately 1/2 ounce of fuel was found in the right tank, and the left tank was full. The FAA inspector found no mechanical discrepancies that would have precluded operation of the airplane prior to impact. The location and quantity of fuel added during the last refueling could not be determined.

The surviving passenger was unable to provide any input as to the events leading to the accident. The maintenance records (logbooks) for the airframe and the engine were not located.

An autopsy and toxicological tests were ordered and performed on the pilot. The autopsy was performed by the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory in Little Rock, Arkansas, on May 17, 2002. Toxicological tests were performed by the Civil Aeromedical Institute in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology results were positive for 0.084 (ug/ml, ug/g) Diphenhydramine [antihistamine] detected in the blood and non-quantified Diphenhydramine present in the urine.

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