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N81029 accident description

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Tail numberN81029
Accident dateOctober 10, 1998
Aircraft typePainton LOEHLE AVIATION 5151
LocationOsceola, AR
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On October 10, 1998, approximately 1345 central daylight time, a Painton Loehle Aviation 5151 amateur-built experimental airplane, N81029, impacted the ground while maneuvering near Osceola, Arkansas. The single-seat airplane, which was owned and operated by the pilot, was destroyed, and the non-certificated pilot was killed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the Title 14 CFR Part 91 local personal flight. The flight originated from the Osceola Municipal Airport approximately 10 minutes prior to the accident.

A witness reported that he observed the airplane make a "normal takeoff and [fly] a conservative right hand pattern." The airplane then "flew down runway 19 with the gear down about 70 mph at 100 feet above ground level." The witness commented that "the motor sounded good." Approximately 2 minutes later, the witness observed the airplane southeast of the airport "in a left hand turn 30 degree bank and nose down 30 degrees as if to fly a spray pass or as if to 'buzz' something." The "motor sounded normal" and "the pitch and bank did not shallow out" as the witness observed the airplane descend out of sight behind a tree line.

The airplane impacted in a plowed field approximately 1 mile southeast of the airport. According to local authorities and the FAA inspector who examined the accident site, it appeared that the left wing tip struck the ground first, then the nose of the airplane, after which the airplane rolled several times. The engine, wings, fuel tank, and instrument panel separated from the fuselage. The forward section of the fuselage was demolished; however, the rear section of the fuselage, including the pilot's seat, remained intact.

One of the first responders to the accident site reported that the pilot was found in the seat with his lap belt and shoulder harness fastened. The responder further reported that the pilot was alive and displayed no outward evidence of traumatic injury; however, he was "not responsive at all." The pilot was transported by ambulance to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1429.

An autopsy was performed by Frank J. Peretti, M.D., at the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory in Little Rock, Arkansas. The autopsy report listed the cause of death as hypertensive arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Additional autopsy findings included a mediastinal mass, enlarged thyroid, firm fibrotic liver, enlarged spleen and no evidence of significant trauma. Toxicological tests performed by the FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institue (CAMI) detected lidocaine in the pilot's blood and urine. According to Dr. Canfield of CAMI, this drug was most likely used during resuscitation efforts.

According to FAA records, the pilot was issued a third class medical certificate and student pilot certificate on November 21, 1996, by an aviation medical examiner. A certified letter from the Aeromedical Certification Division of CAMI was mailed to the pilot on May 15, 1997. The letter indicated that due to the pilot's medical history, which included coronary artery bypass surgery and abdominal aorta graft replacement, he was "not qualified for any class of medical certificate." Following receipt of this letter, the pilot voluntarily returned his medical certificate to the FAA.

Review of the pilot's flight logbook revealed that between September 1958 and June 1960, he accumulated a total of 33.6 hours flight time (14.3 hours of dual flight instruction and 19.3 hours of solo flight). There were no further entries in the logbook until June 27, 1998, when the pilot made his first flight in the accident airplane. Between June 27, 1998, and September 4, 1998 (the last entry), the pilot logged a total of 24 hours flight time, all in the accident airplane.

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