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N6115P accident description

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Tail numberN6115P
Accident dateApril 22, 1999
Aircraft typeSellors SEAREY
LocationSelby Beach, MD
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On April 22, 1999, about 1300 eastern daylight time, a homebuilt SeaRey, N6115P, was substantially damage while executing a water landing near Selby Beach, Maryland. The certificated private pilot received serious injuries, and the passenger was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal local flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the pilot, he kept the airplane at the South River Seaplane Base, at Selby Beach. On the day of the accident, the pilot and his brother departed the pilot's home in Pasadena, Maryland, about 1100, for the seaplane base. Once at the seaplane base, the pilot preflighted the airplane, and then they both boarded. After starting the airplane's engine, the pilot water taxied the airplane for departure. With the airplane configured with 20 degrees of flaps, the pilot advanced the throttle. The airplane accelerated to 50 mph, then came off the water "smoothly." After climbing through 200 feet msl, the pilot retracted the flaps, reset elevator trim, and started a left turn towards Annapolis Airport, Lee, Maryland. The pilot continued the climb to 1,000 feet msl. He added that it was a "beautiful day" with "light winds" out of the southeast, and calm water conditions.

While en route to Annapolis, the pilot decided not to land, because "it was more fun to just fly," and his brother had to get back for a party being held that evening. The pilot transmitted on Annapolis's common traffic advisory frequency that he would be transitioning the area to the south. The pilot then established a course back to Selby Beach.

Because the winds were from the southeast, the pilot approached Selby Beach from the northwest, and executed a straight-in-approach. The pilot retarded the throttle, and the airplane began to descend for the water near Selby Beach. Approximately 300 feet msl and 75 mph, the pilot configured the airplane with 20 degrees of flaps, and reset the elevator trim. After the airplane cleared a tree-covered hill to the northeast, the pilot retarded the throttle to idle. The airplane touched down, and began to "skip" across the surface of the water. The pilot expected the airplane to skip until airspeed deceased, but before the airplane settled into the water, it nosed over. After some difficulty, the pilot egressed the airplane, and held onto one of the airplane's main landing gear axles to stay afloat.

A witness working on a house boat, approximately 800 feet away from the accident site, saw the airplane clear the trees to the northeast. "Everything looked normal." After watching the airplane for a couple of seconds, the witness went back to work. A couple of seconds later, the witness heard a loud noise. He looked up, and saw the airplane nosing over. The witness started the house boat's engines, released the boat's lines, and headed straight for the accident site. While en route, he radioed the Coast Guard, and advised them of the situation. He estimated that 1 1/2 minute had elapsed from the time of the accident until he was on scene.

When the witness arrived at the site, he saw two individuals in the water. The passenger was unconscious, and face down. The pilot was conscious, and requesting help. The witness threw a life ring to the pilot, but he was unable to hold on. The witness repositioned his boat, then threw the pilot a rope, and asked him to hold the passenger's head out of the water. But the pilot was unable. The witness then went below deck to get three life vest. One he put on. When he returned, the pilot had slipped below the surface of the water. He dove into the water, released the extra life vest, and swam about 15 feet to the two men. He lifted their heads out of the water, and waited for a private 13 foot Boston Whaler to arrive. The two injured men were pulled aboard, and taken to shore, where the pilot was taken to a local hospital.

The accident happened during the hours of daylight. The wreckage was located 38 degrees, 54.562 minutes north latitude, 76 degrees, 30.572 minutes west longitude, At sea level.

PILOT INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single engine land rating, and no single engine sea rating. His last third class medical was dated January 25, 1999. A review of the pilot's logbook revealed a total of 192 hours of flight experience with 6 hours in the last 90 days, and 2 hours in the last 30 days in the accident airplane. In addition, the pilot had acquired a total of 32 hours of flight experience in the accident airplane, and completed a biennial flight review in a Piper PA-28-140 during the month of May, 1997. The pilot held a third class medical dated December 22, 1998.

During a telephone interview, the pilot stated that after building his airplane, he went to the factory for approximately a week to receive flight training. During that time, he executed 75 to 80 landings. The landings were a combination of water and land.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

Before the airplane was recovered, it was submerged for 7 hours in 9 feet of salt water. Impact damaged was isolated to the front of the airplane. The engine, propeller, fuel lines, fuel tank, and engine controls were intact. Flight control continuity was verified from all control surfaces to the pilot's control stick.

The nose of the airplane, forward of the rudder pedals, had separated from the fuselage. The canopy was missing, and the fuselage panel on the left side of the cockpit had separated from the airplane. The instrument panel was laying on the barge and was connected to the fuselage by wires and plastic tubing. The left side of the airplane, minus the cockpit area, was free of damage except for the left wing's fabric. The damage on the left wing was isolated to two areas. The first area was an irregular tear about 1 foot outboard of the fuselage that started from the leading, and terminated approximately 1 foot forward of the wing's trailing edge. The second area, located approximately 3 foot out board of the fuselage was a tear that ran from the leading edge to the trailing edge of the wing.. The left and right horizontal stabilizers, along with the vertical stabilizer were not damaged. The right side of the airplane was not damaged except for the right side cockpit, and the missing nose section of the airplane.

The airplane's hull and nose section was constructed primarily of fiberglass. The primary fracture surface were the nose separated from the fuselage was located approximately 10 inches forward of the rudder pedals. The fracture was perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the airplane, and was consistent with overload.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was preformed on the passenger on April 23, 1999 at the Medical Examiners Office in Baltimore, Maryland.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Ten hours after the airplane was recovered from the water, each cylinder was drained by removing the bottom sparkplugs. Then the sparkplugs were reinstalled, and the propeller was rotated by hand. After several attempts, the engine fired and the propeller rotated approximately 10 time. Then after several more attempts, the engine started, and continued to run. The engine was allowed to idle for 5 minutes, then the throttle was advance to the full forward position. The engine responded, and full throttle was maintained for 5 minutes. During this time, the engine ran smoothly, and consistent with takeoff power.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

A witness that was approximately 1/4 miles form the accident site reported seeing the airplane attempting to land on the bay. He added, that the airplane contacted the water, dragged its tail, and became airborne. The airplane then contacted the water for a second time in a nose-low attitude, and nosed over.

Federal Aviation Regulation 61.31 (k) Exceptions, states "(1) This section does not require a category and class rating for aircraft not type certificated as airplanes, rotorcraft, or lighter-than-air aircraft, or a class rating for gliders or powered-lifts. (2) The rating limitations of this section do not apply to ...(iii) The holder of a pilot certificate when operating an aircraft under the authority of an experimental or provisional aircraft type certificate..."

On April 23, 1999 the wreckage was released to the owner's representative, Gordon Anderson of 1515 Shore Drive, Edgewater, Maryland 21037.

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