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N80T accident description

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Tail numberN80T
Accident dateJune 28, 2003
Aircraft typeMattison Starduster Too
LocationEllicott, CO
Near 38.872778 N, -104.411667 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On June 28, 2003, at 1140 mountain daylight time, a Mattison Starduster Too, N80T, piloted by an airline transport pilot, was destroyed when it impacted terrain 300 feet west of the Colorado Springs East Airport (A50), Ellicott, Colorado. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 without a flight plan. The pilot sustained fatal injuries. The local flight originated approximately 5 minutes prior to the accident.

The airplane's owner said that the purpose of the flight was to ferry the airplane from A50 to Meadow Lake Airport, Falcon, Colorado. The owner said the airplane was fueled just prior to takeoff. The owner told the pilot before the flight, "Please don't do anything fancy. I don't want you to break my pretty airplane."

Witnesses on the ground stated the airplane took off, "circled the pattern," and made a low pass over runway 17 (4,550 feet by 52 feet, dry asphalt) at approximately 200 feet. Approximately midway down the runway, the witnesses observed the airplane make a slow roll to the right. One witness stated that approximately two-thirds of the way through the roll the airplane flew into the ground at a steep angle.

Another witness stated the airplane was "at about 200 feet off the ground. He pulled up and started his roll to the right." The witness said halfway through the roll with the airplane upside down, the airplane started failing out of the roll. The witness said the pilot " started to turn the plane back over while coming out of the roll. He had power on to try to recover but his angle nose down and rate of altitude loss was too much. He hit the ground at the same angle." The witness described the angle as approximately 45 degrees nose down.

Another witness said the pilot "attempted to roll the aircraft. It went 180 degrees onto its back then fell nose down headed north. [The] Plane started to pull up slightly but continued to dive at approx[imately a] 45 to 50 degree angle and impacted [the] ground at high speed.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with single and multiengine land, single engine sea, and instrument ratings. The pilot also held a certified flight instructor certificate with single engine, multiengine, and instrument ratings. The pilot was actively employed as a flight instructor.

According to insurance records obtained through the pilot's employer, as of May 30, 2003, the pilot had over 11,000 total flying hours. The records showed the pilot had 10,800 hours as pilot-in-command, over 4,500 hours in single-engine, fixed-landing gear airplanes, and 650 hours in tail-wheel aircraft. The records also showed the pilot claimed having flown 250 hours in the previous 12 months and 65 hours within the previous 90 days.

The pilot held a second class medical certificate dated December 9, 2002. The certificate showed the following limitation: "Must wear corrective lenses.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane, serial number M3 was an experimental amateur-built. According to airplane records, the airplane was constructed in July 1973. The airplane was issued a special airworthiness certificate on October 15, 1979. The owner had purchased the airplane on February 17, 2003, for personal use. A new registration reflecting the new owner's name had not yet been issued.

The airplane underwent a conditional inspection on February 10, 2003. The tachometer time recorded at the conditional inspection was 706.4 hours. The rear cockpit tachometer reading, recorded at the accident site, showed 823.1 hours.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The National Transportation Safety Board on-scene investigation began at 1500.

The accident site was located in a plowed field approximately 300 feet west of runway 17-35 and abeam a point approximately 2,000 feet north of the approach end of runway 35. The accident site was also located at geographical coordinates 38 degrees, 52.357 minutes north latitude and 104 degrees, 24.695 minutes west longitude.

The accident site consisted of a ground impact scar, the airplane main wreckage, and 2 debris fields, one north of the main wreckage and the other immediately east of the main wreckage.

The accident site began with a ground impact scar located immediately east of the main wreckage. The ground impact scar was 7 feet long, 6 feet wide and 10 inches at its deepest point near the center. The ground impact scar was oriented along a 305-degree magnetic heading. Red and white colored paint chips, inspection panels, small metal pieces, and pieces of engine components were located in and around the ground impact scar.

The airplane main wreckage consisted of the top wing, the left and right lower wings, the engine and propeller, the front and aft cockpits, fuselage, main landing gear, empennage, and tail wheel.

The airplane's top wing was broken aft at mid-span. The left top wing was crushed upward and aft along the outboard leading edge. The top and bottom fabric skin was wrinkled and torn. The right top wing was crushed aft along the entire span of the leading edge. The spars were broken aft. The ribs and stringers were broken aft and fragmented. The top and bottom fabric skin was shredded. The top wing fuel tank was broken open, bent upward and crushed aft.

The left bottom wing was broken aft at the wing root. The outboard leading edge was crushed aft. The fabric skin was wrinkled. The left outboard wing strut was bent outward. The crossing wing support straps were bent and twisted aft. The left ailerons, top and bottom, were intact. The left inboard struts to the top wing were bent forward at the fuselage. The joining control rod between the ailerons was bent outward approximately 10 inches down from the top aileron mounting bolt. Flight control continuity to the left ailerons was confirmed.

The right bottom wing was broken aft at the wing root. The spars, ribs and stringers were broken aft and fragmented. The fabric skin was torn and shredded. The right outboard wing strut was broken aft. The crossing wing support straps were bent and twisted aft. The right inboard struts to the top wing were bent and broken outboard at the fuselage. The right ailerons, top and bottom were broken out from the right top and bottom wings. The ailerons were intact. The joining control rod between the ailerons was bent outward at mid-span. Flight control continuity to the right ailerons was confirmed.

The airplane's upper cowling was crushed downward and broken open. The ring cowling and the propeller spinner were broken aft and fragmented. The bottom cowling was crushed upward. The engine was broken downward at the mounts. The firewall was crushed forward around the engine accessories section. The magnetos and alternator were broken out. The oil pump and filter were crushed aft. The propeller hub was broken at the ring mount for propeller blade "B." Blade "B" was broken out of the hub. The blade showed torsional bending, chordwise scratches and leading edge nicks. The "A" blade remained with the propeller hub. The "A" blade showed torsional bending outboard of mid-span, chordwise scratches, and leading edge nicks.

The main fuel tank, aft of the firewall was crushed aft and broken open. Approximately 35 gallons of fuel was drained from the main and top wing fuel tanks. The fuel was consistent with 80/87 Octane auto fuel. The main landing gear was broken aft. The right main landing gear leg and wheel were bent left and twisted beneath the fuselage. The wheel pants were broken off and fragmented.

The front cockpit windscreen was broken out and fragmented. The front cockpit instrument panel was crushed forward and fragmented. The flight and engine instruments were broken out. The majority of the instruments were broken. The fuselage frame around the front cockpit was bent aft and downward. The fuselage cockpit ring was bent downward and aft. The front cockpit floor was crushed and broken upward. The front cockpit seat was broken forward. The outer fabric covering was shredded.

The front cockpit's airspeed indicator needle showed 233 miles per hour.

The aft cockpit windscreen was broken out and found resting 4 feet west of the airplane main wreckage. The Plexiglas was broken out. The aft cockpit instrument panel was crushed forward and fragmented. Several of the flight and engine instruments were broken out. The fuselage frame around the front cockpit was bent aft and downward and twisted approximately 15-degrees clockwise. The top fuselage cockpit ring was bent aft. The aft cockpit floor was crushed and broken upward and to the right. The aft cockpit seat was broken forward. The outer fabric covering was torn and wrinkled aft.

An examination of flight and engine instruments and engine controls from the aft cockpit showed the following:

Throttle: full forward position Mixture: full rich position Propeller knob: mid-range position Carburetor heat: full cold Primer: in and locked Throttle friction knob: tight

Tachometer: 3,200 rpm Tachometer time: 823.1 hours Manifold pressure: 13.9 inches

Airspeed indicator: 130 miles per hour Altimeter: 6,155 feet Kollsman window: 30.21 Vertical speed indicator: 5,000 feet per minute descent Turn and bank indicator: left bank, greater than 30 degrees.

The aft fuselage frame was bent downward and twisted approximately 10 degrees clockwise. The fabric covering was wrinkled. The tail cone area beneath the horizontal stabilizers was crushed upward. The tail wheel was bent upward and left. The vertical stabilizer and rudder were undamaged. Flight control continuity to the rudder was confirmed. The right horizontal stabilizer and elevator were bent upward 40 degrees approximately 3 feet outboard of the fuselage. The top support straps were buckled aft. The bottom support strut was broken downward and aft. The left horizontal stabilizer and elevator were undamaged. The elevator was jammed at the neutral position. The elevator horn was broken aft at the elevator interconnect bar. The elevator trim tab was deflected downward approximately 30 degrees.

A debris field extended north from the main wreckage for approximately 23 feet. The field was approximately 20 feet wide and contained red and white colored paint chips and fragmented pieces of clear Plexiglas.

A second debris field extended approximately 16 feet east to south east of the main wreckage. The field was approximately 15 feet wide and contained red and white colored paint chips, fragmented pieces of clear Plexiglas, pieces of broken metal, the aft portion of a broken wheel pant, and pieces from the propeller spinner.

The elevator horn and elevator interconnect torque tube were retained for further testing. An examination of the engine, propeller, and other airplane systems showed no anomalies.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy of the pilot was conducted by the El Paso County Coroner at Colorado Springs, Colorado, on June 29, 2003.

The results of FAA toxicology testing of specimens taken from the pilot were negative for all tests conducted.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The airplane's elevator horn and interconnect torque tube were examined at the National Transportation Safety Board's Materials Laboratory, Washington, DC, on July 27, 2003. The examination showed that the attachments between the elevator horn and bottom portion of the torque tube were composed of two "c" section channels that were welded to the tube. No evidence of fatigue was found. Very little of the forward portions of the "c" sections were directly welded to the tube. The fractures observed in those areas were through the weld bead slightly away from the "c" sections. The aft portion of the right "c" section was broken. The weld in this area was intact. On the aft portion of the left "c" section, the weld was fractured along areas of incomplete fusion.

The airplane's owner said he had recently purchased the airplane. He said at the time he bought it, the previous owner had just performed a conditional inspection of the airplane. The airplane's current owner said he did not pull the inspection panels at the elevator prior to purchasing the airplane. He said he didn't think there would be any problems with the airplane.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Parties to the investigation were the FAA Flight Standards District Office, Denver, Colorado.

The main airplane wreckage was released and returned to Beegles Aircraft Service, Incorporated, on July 3, 2003. The elevator horn and interconnect torque tube was released and returned to Beegles Aircraft Service, Incorporated, on August 14, 2003.

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