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N140V accident description

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Tail numberN140V
Accident dateFebruary 01, 2002
Aircraft typeHarleman Tornado II
LocationMolino, FL
Near 30.716667 N, -87.383333 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On February 1, 2002, about 1630 central standard time, an experimental Harleman Titan Tornado II, motor glider, registered to a private individual, operating as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, collided with a static line strung between the tops of power line support towers and crashed during an approach to a private airstrip near Molino, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The aircraft received substantial damage and the private-rated glider pilot sustained fatal injuries. The aircraft departed Coastal Airport, Pensacola, Florida, about 30 minutes before the accident.

According to a brother of the pilot, an eyewitness stated that he observed the aircraft over fly the north-south oriented agricultural airstrip and make a left course reversal to enter a downwind leg and approach for a landing in a northerly direction. At about 700 feet south of the runway's southern threshold, the aircraft's fixed landing gear collided with one of two side by side static wires strung between the tops of two power transmission line towers, and the aircraft impacted the ground. The towers support east-west running power transmission lines that are easily seen and avoided, however, the static wires run above the power lines and are thinner in cross section.

According to an FAA inspector, two additional eyewitnesses stated that the aircraft actually made two approaches to the airstrip. The first approach and landing was uneventful. It was the second approach that resulted in the wire collision and plunge to the ground. According to the FAA aircraft registry report, N170V is classified as a fixed wing, single engine, amateur-built, experimental motor glider. According to the FAA airman's registry report, the pilot possessed a private-pilot certificate for gliders, and no medical certificate. According to Federal Air Regulation, 61.23, (b), "A person is not required to hold a medical certificate when exercising the privileges of a pilot certificate with a glider category rating." The pilot's first and only Application for Airman Medical Certificate and Student Pilot Certificate, completed on March 8, 1998, noted a history of bipolar disorder treated with Depakote (valproate) and insomnia treated with Ambien (zolpidem). The pilot was denied a medical certificate. The FAA instructs aviation medical examiners (AMEs) that the use of "mood ameliorating" medications is considered disqualifying.

According to the manufacturing manager for Titan Aircraft kits, the Tornado II can be built for use in numerous categories; (1) as a single place ultralight, (2) a 2-place ultralight trainer, (3) a standard experimental single or dual place light aircraft, or, (4) using the larger 26 foot higher aspect ratio wing, as a motor glider. Factory personnel had knowledge of the accident of N140V, and confirmed that factory records revealed the aircraft was built as a motor glider.

The Special Airworthiness Certificate issued to the builder/pilot classifies the aircraft model as a "Titan Tornado II MG." It could be assumed the "MG" meant motor-glider, however, according to FAA Order 8130.2D, under the heading, "Listing of Manned Free Balloon or Glider on Special Airworthiness Certificates Issued for Experimental Purposes", the proper denotation on the experimental airworthiness certificate, FAA Form 8130-7, should be as follows: "MANNED FREE BALLOON" or "GLIDER" will be placed in parentheses following "experimental" in the Category/Designation block. This procedure ensures the appropriate application of 14 CFR Part 61, Certification: Pilots, Flight Instructors, and Ground Instructors, concerning the medical requirements for the operation of such aircraft. Such an identification was not appended to the Form 8130-7 for the accident aircraft. A copy of the applicable parts of FAR Part 21.191, as well as the Special Airworthiness Certificate for the accident aircraft are attachments to this report.

Postmortem examination of the pilot was conducted by Dr. William R. Bell, Associate Medical Examiner, District I, Florida, on February 2, 2002. The cause of death was attributed to multiple blunt force trauma sustained in an airplane accident. A toxicological examination was negative for ethanol in the blood. Tests were positive for fluoxetine and mirtazapine in the blood. The brand name for fluoxetine is Prozac and the brand name for mirtazapine is Remeron. Both of these prescription-only medications are used to treat mental depression. The wife of the pilot stated that the pilot used the Remeron for insomnia, and the Prozac for depression. The following warnings for the medications are stated, " Fluoxetine may cause drowsiness, restrict the ability to think clearly, and cause poor muscle control." For the compound, mirtazapine, the following warning is noted, "Mirtazapine may cause drowsiness or trouble in thinking. Dizziness, light-headedness, or fainting may occur". Material extracted from the pilot's medical records, as well as records of telephone conversations with the pilot's wife are attachments to this report.

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