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N444BG accident description

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Tail numberN444BG
Accident dateJune 15, 1996
Aircraft typeVan Horn VELOCITY
LocationGoodyear, AZ
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On June 15, 1996, at 0823 hours mountain standard time, a Van Horn Velocity, N444BG, owned and operated by the pilot, experienced an in-flight fire. The pilot of the experimental homebuilt airplane declared an emergency and made a forced landing on rough terrain about 2 miles southwest of Goodyear, Arizona. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), during the landing the airplane collided with a pole, nosed over, and was destroyed by fire. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed during the personal flight, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Goodyear at 0700.

The National Transportation Safety Board reviewed recorded radio transmissions at the local control position in the Goodyear air traffic control tower for June 15, 1996, between 0815 and 0828 mountain standard time. The following summarizes pertinent transmissions. All listed times are accurate to within plus or minus 15 seconds.

At 0820:40, the accident pilot reported that he was ". . . approximately ten miles west at four thousand feet with an engine problem." The pilot then declared an emergency and requested a landing clearance. The Goodyear controller immediately responded and cleared the pilot to land.

In the pilot's next transmission, at 0821:30, he informed the controller that he had about 4 hours of fuel onboard. He also stated "but it doesn't seem to be working to well right now." The pilot estimated that he would arrive at the Goodyear Airport in about 5 minutes.

At 0821:50, the pilot made his next transmission and stated "I've got a fire on board. I've a fire on bo . . ." (The complete transmission was not recorded or was interrupted.) The controller responded and stated the following: "Roger I understand you have a fire on board. Do you think you can make it to the airport?" (No reply was recorded.)

At 0824:00, the controller said: "Four Bravo Golf you still with me?" Once again, no reply was recorded. At 0824:20, during a transmission to another individual, the controller indicated that she believed the airplane was down because she observed "fire out there and he is not talking to me." One minute later the controller reported observing black smoke which she estimated was about 2 miles southwest of the airport.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

On July 2, 1996, the airplane wreckage was examined by the FAA and a participant from Lycoming Engines. In summary, the FAA reported that the fire had been concentrated in the area of the firewall. Both fuel and oil lines were found loose with fire traces indicating both fuel and oil involvement. No specific point of origin was determined. The FAA noted that the engine had been "highly modified" from its original Lycoming factory design (see attached report).

PILOT INFORMATION

According to the FAA, the pilot's total civilian flying experience was about 3,000 hours. The pilot's wife estimated that her husband's total flying experience was over 9,000 hours.

Acquaintances of the pilot and family members reported that the pilot had a total of about 40 hours of experience flying in both his and other Velocities. Also, the pilot had flown his airplane the day preceding the accident. The pilot was in good health and did not take prescription medication.

On June 17, 1996, an autopsy was performed by the Office of the Medical Examiner in Maricopa County, 120 S. Sixth Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona. According to the medical examiner, the pilot died as a result of multiple blunt force injuries. No ethanol was detected.

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