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N199LH accident description

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Tail numberN199LH
Accident dateJune 24, 2003
Aircraft typeHammond Vans RV-6A
LocationLa Junta, CO
Near 38.049444 N, -103.485833 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On June 24, 2003, approximately 1005 mountain daylight time, a Hammond Vans RV-6A, N199LH, registered to and operated by the pilot, was destroyed when it impacted terrain approximately 1/2-mile east of the La Junta Municipal Airport, La Junta, Colorado. The private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the personal flight being conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91. The flight originated at 0922.

According to a lineman who was refueling an airplane, he saw the pilot drive by the airport off ice about 0900. Approximately 0910, the pilot announced on the Unicom frequency that he was taxiing to runway 26. The lineman said the pilot departed to the west at 0922. At 0929, the pilot contacted the Denver Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS), reported his position as being 13 nautical miles west of La Junta, and requested the weather in the La Junta area. The pilot was given the current La Junta METAR (routine aviation meteorological report) and an AIRMET (airman meteorology) for turbulence. At 0930, the pilot reported that he was 10 nautical miles north of the airport and filed a PIREP (pilot report). The lineman said he thought he saw the pilot fly over runway 08 in an easterly direction, but he paid no attention. Another witness said he saw the airplane in the traffic pattern doing touch-and-go landings.

When the pilot failed to return home for dinner, his wife drove to the airport and found his parked automobile. The hangar door was open and the airplane was gone. She notified airport personnel. Approximately 2000, the wreckage was sighted at a location of 38 degrees, 02.51' north latitude, and 103 degrees, 29.09' west longitude, or about 0.5 miles east of the airport.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating, dated October 26, 1985. His third class airman medical certificate, dated March 27, 2002, contained the limitation "Holder must wear corrective lenses." The pilot passed the instrument rating airplane written examination on February 21, 2002.

The pilot's second logbook, containing entries from October 22, 2001, to June 23, 2003, was recovered from the wreckage. According to the logbook, the pilot had accumulated the following flight time:

Total time, 705.5 hours Pilot-in-command, 677.8 hours Rans RV: 229.9 hours Dual instruction received, 196.9 hours Actual instruments, 5.3 hours Simulated instruments, 106. hours Night, 21 hours

The pilot had logged 9 hours within the previous 30 days, 5 hours which were in N199LH. He had logged no less than 2 hours in the last 24 hours, all of which were in the accident airplane. His biennial flight review, taken in a Piper PA-28-161, was dated October 24, 2001.


N199LH, a model RV-6A (s/n 23958), was built by the pilot and his wife. The date of manufacture was listed as December 25, 1999. It was powered by a Lycoming O-360-A1D engine, rated at 180 horsepower, driving a Hartzell 3-blade, all-metal, controllable pitch, full-feathering propeller (m/n HC-B3TN-3B). The maintenance records were not located.


At 1053, the La Junta METAR was as follows: Wind, 180 degrees at 14 knots, gusting to 19 knots; visibility, 10 statute miles (or greater); sky condition, clear; temperature, 31 degrees C; dew point, 8 degrees C; altimeter setting, 29.74 inches of mercury.


La Junta Municipal Airport is an uncontrolled (non-towered) airport, located 3 miles north of La Junta, Colorado. It is situated at an elevation of 4,238 feet msl, and has two runways: 08-26 and 12-30. Runway 08-26 is 6,848 feet long and 75 feet wide, and made of asphalt.


The on-scene investigation was conducted on June 25, 2003. The airplane was in a open field and aligned on a magnetic heading of 030 degrees. Both wings were intact. The ground underneath the wings was discolored, and there was a strong odor of gasoline throughout the area. Both left and right fuel tanks were empty. The left fiberglass wing tip was missing. The outer 3 feet of the leading edge was crushed. The inner 5 feet of the leading edge of the left wing was open. The outboard 5 feet of the right wing leading edge was crushed. There was continuity between the left and right ailerons, but there was no continuity with the control stick. Both left and right flaps were fully extended. Both flap actuator rods were broken at the ends.

The empennage was intact, undamaged, and in a vertical position. Rescuers had to move it in order to extricate the pilot. Elevator and rudder control continuity was established. Elevator trim was set 1/2 inch up.

The engine was buried underneath the airplane in an 18-inch deep crater. The propeller assembly remained attached to the engine. The blades were arbitrarily marked "A" and "B" for identification purposes. Both propeller blades bore chordwise scratches on the cambered surfaces. Blade "A" was bent back and twisted. Blade "B" had two large nicks on the leading edge and had a slight aft bend. Oil was present in the propeller hub.

The crushed cockpit lay on top of the engine. Pieces of the shattered Plexiglas canopy were scattered in front of the airplane. Examination of the instrument panel revealed the following:

Airspeed: 80 knots Altimeter: 5,300 feet Kollsman window setting: 29.75 in. Hg. Artificial horizon: Nose down, left bank Throttle: Full forward Mixture: Full forward Propeller control: Full forward Carburetor Heat: Closed Flaps: Full down


An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Otero County Coroner's office in Pueblo, Colorado.

The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on the pilot. According to CAMI's report, 24 mg/dL of ethanol, 30mg/dL of acetaldehyde, and 1mg/dL of N-propanol were detected in the blood; 16 mg/dL of ethanol and 78 mg/dL of acetaldehyde were detected in the liver. No ethanol was detected in the brain or the heart. The report noted, "The ethanol found in this case is from postmortem ethanol formation and not from the ingestion of ethanol." No evidence of carbon monoxide, cyanide, and or drugs were detected in the blood.


On August 20, 2000, the airplane was substantially damaged when the pilot inadvertently ground looped the airplane while attempting to take off from Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The airplane was repaired in Rifle, Colorado. An RV-7 tail was used instead of an RV-6 tail. On the day before the accident, the pilot remarked to his daughter that the controls didn't seem as if they were adjusted properly, and he had scared himself while practicing stalls. At the request of the pilot's wife, the airplane was re-examined on September 24, 2003, and November 12, 2003. Cold riveting of the empennage skin to the bulkheads was noted, and in some areas the rivets were not installed. Nothing was found that would have been causal to the accident.

The wreckage was released to the insurance company on November 12, 2003.

The Federal Aviation Administration was the only party to the investigation.

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