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N71917 accident description

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Tail numberN71917
Accident dateJuly 12, 2001
Aircraft typeLuscombe 8A
LocationResaca, GA
Near 34.666667 N, -85.166667 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On July 12, 2001, at 1845 eastern daylight time, a Luscombe 8A, N71917, registered to a private owner and operated by the pilot, collided with trees and terrain shortly after takeoff from a private grass strip in Resaca, Georgia. The instructional flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 with no flight plan filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The certificated flight instructor and the student pilot received fatal injuries, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The local flight departed Zack Airstrip in Resaca, Georgia, at 1800.

Prior to the accident flight, the airplane was flown about 25 miles to the Zack Airstrip by another pilot, then the certificated flight instructor took the airplane for a brief solo flight to become familiar with its flight characteristics. When the flight instructor returned, he and the student pilot departed. The pilot who had previously flown the airplane remained at the airstrip. He stated the flight instructor and student pilot departed the area for several minutes, then returned and executed three full-stop landings and take-offs. He stated the airplane's climb attitude on each takeoff appeared flat with a slow rate of climb, and the engine sounded normal. He stated he observed the airplane execute its final takeoff to the north, then he turned away to retrieve fuel cans to fuel the airplane for the flight home. He stated he heard an engine noise that sounded strange, as if the engine revved up, then he heard a crashing sound. When he arrived at the accident site, he detected a fuel odor.

A second pilot-rated witness on the ground stated he observed the airplane execute its final takeoff to the north, and everything appeared normal. He stated he turned away to prepare to photograph the landing, and he heard an engine noise that sounded strange, as if the engine revved up. He stated he then turned around and saw the airplane clip the trees and spiral toward the ground.

A witness in the back yard of a nearby residence observed the airplane flying low over her house. She stated the airplane looked like it was not able to get enough power. She observed the airplane turn left, and she stated its wings were "sticking straight up." She stated she then heard the engine cut out for a few seconds, then the airplane went into the trees.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage was found in an approximate 90-degree nose-low attitude in a field 1/2 mile northwest of the departure end of the airstrip. The wreckage came to rest on a 050-degree magnetic heading from a stand of trees that displayed freshly broken branches. One severed tree limb displayed a 6-inch propeller slash mark. The engine was displaced upward and to the right, one propeller blade was separated at the hub, and the other propeller blade was damaged at the tip. The fuselage displayed buckling behind cockpit area, and the empennage was cut aft of the buckled area by emergency response personnel.

The leading edges of both wings displayed symmetrical crush damage, and the ailerons were found attached. Tree bark was found embedded in the right wing, and the leading edge displayed two flat areas approximately 16 inches wide crushed aft to the main spar. The tail section remained attached to the empennage, the horizontal stabilizer displayed leading edge damage, and the rudder and elevator were found attached.

Examination of the cockpit revealed the throttle was found in the idle position and was impact damaged. The carburetor heat control was found in the off position, and the primer was found in the locked position. Flight control continuity for the ailerons, rudder, and elevator was established by manipulating the cockpit flight controls.

Examination of the engine revealed impact damage to the front and left side. The air intake and filter assembly was crushed, the carburetor was damaged, the right magneto was separated, the oil tank was separated, and the No. 4 cylinder was cracked. Oil was present in the sump. The engine rotated freely when turned by hand, and compression developed in the No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 cylinders. Both the left and right magnetos sparked when rotated. Examination of the fuel strainer, oil strainer, and air filter revealed no evidence of contamination. A sliver of glass approximately 1/4-inch long was found in the gascolator bowl. Some varnishing was present in the carburetor bowl, the float assembly and needle were clean and moving freely, and an odor of fuel was detected. The carburetor heat cable was secure, and the carburetor heat flapper was in the off position.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The certificated flight instructor held a commercial pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land, airplane multi-engine land, and instrument airplane, and he was issued a flight instructor certificate for airplane single-engine on March 11, 2001. He held a second class medical issued February 13, 2001, valid with no limitations or waivers. His last reported total flight time to the Federal Aviation Administration was 2,300 hours.

The student pilot held a third class medical certificate issued September 11, 2000, valid with no limitations or waivers. His last reported total flight time to the Federal Aviation Administration was 24 hours.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The Luscombe 8A was registered to a private individual. It was a high-wing airplane powered by a 65-horsepower Continental A-65-8 engine and was equipped with the optional metal wing and a wood propeller. The pilot who flew the airplane prior to the accident flight stated it had about 7 gallons of automotive fuel on board when it departed Zack Airstrip. An individual familiar with the restoration of the airplane stated the engine had less than 100 hours on it since rebuild. Repeated requests for the airplane logbooks were unanswered.

Type Certificate Data Sheet No. A-694, Part II, for the Luscombe Model 8A states: "Placard required: 'Full carburetor air heat required for takeoff and landing.' The reason for this placard is that during takeoff acceleration and initial high-angle-of-attack climb, the fuel flow may not be adequate for proper operation. Application of full carburetor heat in this case helps overcome possible deficiency of fuel flow during takeoff. Carburetor ice is not a basic consideration in requiring this placard." The placard was found in place.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Chattanooga Airport weather observation at 1845 eastern daylight time reported 10 statute miles visibility, clear skies, wind 040 degrees at 5 knots, temperature 29 degrees Celsius, dew point 17 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 29.91 inches.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Office of the Medical Examiner, Division of Forensic Sciences in Atlanta, Georgia, performed autopsies and forensic toxicology for both the certificated flight instructor and the student pilot.

An autopsy was performed on the certificated flight instructor, and the cause of death was reported as multiple blunt force injuries. Postmortem toxicology results were negative for blood alcohol, amphetamines, barbiturates, cannabinoids, benzodiazepines, cocaine/cocaine metabolites, and common opioids. The Federal Aviation Administration Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, did not receive specimens for additional postmortem toxicology.

An autopsy was performed on the student pilot, and the cause of death was reported as multiple blunt force injuries. Postmortem toxicology results were negative for blood alcohol, amphetamines, barbiturates, cannabinoids, benzodiazepines, cocaine/cocaine metabolites, and common opioids. The Federal Aviation Administration Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed additional postmortem toxicology. According to the report, 0.0012 (ug/ml, ug/g) tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid (marijuana metabolite) was detected in the blood, and 0.5029 (ug/ml, ug/g) was detected in the bile.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Weight and balance records indicate the empty weight for the airplane was 761 pounds, and the maximum gross weight was 1,260 pounds. According to the medical examiner's records, the certificated flight instructor weighed 200 pounds, and the student pilot weighed 270 pounds. The airplane carried about 42 pounds of fuel when it departed Zack Airstrip, which has a field elevation of 713 feet.

The wreckage was released to a party designated by the owner on November 26, 2002.

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