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N12XT accident description

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Tail numberN12XT
Accident dateJune 05, 2008
Aircraft typeExtra Flugzeugbau EA 300/L
LocationGothenburg, NE
Near 41.135 N, -100.153333 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On June 5, 2008, at 0904 central daylight time (CDT), an Extra Flugzeugbau EA 300/L airplane, N12XT, impacted terrain thirteen miles north of Gothenburg, Nebraska, while on a cross-country flight. The non-instrument rated private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. The personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 without a flight plan. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight originated at North Platte Municipal Airport (LBF), North Platte, Nebraska, with an intended destination of Lewis University Airport (LOT), Chicago/Romeoville, Illinois.

According to a family member, the pilot was traveling cross-country to LOT to perform in an aerobatics competition. He departed Fort Collins, Colorado, and landed at LBF on June 4th. He departed that same afternoon for LOT, but returned approximately one hour later due to weather and spent the night.

On June 5th, security camera photos show the pilot taxiing the airplane for takeoff from LBF at 0842. Denver Center Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar registered a single airplane with its transponder set to 1200 departing LBF at 0849:15. ATC tracked this airplane until 0904:18 and the last radar return coordinates were within .5 miles of the accident site and 3,600 feet mean sea level (MSL). During the fifteen minute flight the airplane maintained approximately 3,300 feet MSL on an easterly heading for eleven minutes before making a right turn to the west-southwest. During the last 4 minutes of flight the airplane varied in altitude from 3,200 to 4,900 feet MSL. The radar track showed climb and descent rates as high as 6,000 feet per minute and two heading changes of approximately 180 degrees during the last two minutes of data.

A private pilot witness 3.6 miles from the accident site saw the airplane fly over his home. He said there was a "wet" fog with visibility of about three miles and the pilot was rocking his wings back and forth.

PILOT INFORMATION

The 39 year old pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. His last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first-class medical certificate was issued on May 9, 2008, with no limitations.

An examination of the pilot's logbook, found in the airplane wreckage, indicated an estimated total flight time of 429.8 hours; of which 182.1 hours were in the accident airplane. He logged 20.4 hours in the last 90 days and 15 hours in the last 30 days. His last noted flight review was completed May 4, 2008.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The 2005-model Extra EA 300/L, serial number 1208, was a low wing, semi-monocoque airplane, with a fixed, tail-wheel landing gear, and was configured for two occupants. The airplane was powered by a direct drive, horizontally opposed, fuel injected, air-cooled, six-cylinder engine. The engine was a Lycoming AEIO-540 SER, serial number L-30771-48A, rated at 260 horsepower at 2,700 rpm, and was driving a four-bladed constant speed MT-Propeller wooden propeller.

According to the airframe logbook found in the airplane wreckage, the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on March 20, 2008, with an airframe total time of 210 hours.

The engine logbook revealed that the engine had been inspected in accordance with an annual inspection on March 20, 2008.

Investigators were unable to determine how many hours the airplane and engine had accumulated since the last annual inspection.

The airplane was imported from Germany and delivered to Southeastern Aero Services for installation of additional avionics. The airplane was delivered to Southeastern Aero Services with an airspeed indicator, altimeter, magnetic compass and a left hand 45/90 degree sighting indicator. Southeast Aero Services installed a Vertical Speed Indicator (VSI), turn coordinator, and a Garmin GNS-420 global positioning and communications system. The airplane was not equipped with an attitude gyro or any additional equipment that would have allowed for flight in instrument meteorological conditions. The airplane was registered to Foothills 100 Investments, LLC on December 20, 2006.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The pilot obtained a 21 minute and 28 second weather briefing from Columbia (COU) Flight Service starting at 0748, June 5th. During the briefing, the flight service briefer indicated instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) and thunderstorms for portions of his intended route of flight. He was also informed of an AIRMET for areas of ceilings less than 1,000 feet and visibility less than three miles along his intended route of flight.

Weather at LBF at 0815 showed thunderstorms in the vicinity of the airport with lightning from the southwest to the north, overcast at 1,100 feet, ten miles visibility and winds 060 degrees at 15 knots, gusting to 20 knots.

Weather at LBF at 0853 showed thunderstorms in the immediate area with lightning in all quadrants, overcast at 900 feet, ten mile visibility and winds 080 degrees at 24 knots, gusting to 32 knots.

LBF is Class E airspace. Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.155, basic visual flight rules (VFR) weather minmums for Class E airspace are 3 miles visibility, and remain 500 feet below, 1,000 feet above, and 2,000 feet horizontal clear from clouds.

Surface analysis charts indicate there was a warm front over the accident location running from the southwest to the northeast. According to radar summaries and witness testimony there were no thunderstorms present at the accident location at the time of the accident. An AIRMET was valid from 0353 to 1000 for ceilings below 1,000 feet and visibilities less than three miles for portions of the intended route of flight.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage was located in a green wheat field approximately 13 miles north of Gothenburg, Nebraska and 31 miles east of LBF. The Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates recorded at the accident site were 41 degrees 08.06 minutes North latitude and 100 degrees 09.12 minutes West longitude, at a field elevation of 2,820 feet msl. The debris field encompassed an area approximately 50 feet long and approximately 44 feet wide, on a magnetic heading of 005 degrees. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the site. The pilot was found wearing a parachute and strapped into his seat. His seat belt was fastened and the airplane canopy was located within the main wreckage.

There was only one impact point, located coincidental to the main wreckage of the airplane. The impact point was a hole in the ground approximately four feet deep. The engine and multiple components normally located forward of the front cockpit were buried within the hole. Ground scars consistent with impact from both wings leading edges extended laterally from the impact point for 169 inches from the fuselage center to the left and 160 inches to the right.

The fuselage forward of the rear seat was crushed and was mostly indistinguishable. Portions of the fuselage forward of the front cockpit were buried under ground. The remnants of the forward fuselage were mostly aligned with a 005 degree magnetic heading.

The fuselage aft of the rear seat was present to a point equal to the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer and the GPS antenna. The skin material was ripped or broken along the upper fuselage surface. The aluminum frame was mostly intact, and exhibited sideways bending to the left. The aft end of the fuselage measured 209 inches on a straight line perpendicular to the wing spar from the leading edge of the impact crater to a point equal to the aft end of the remaining fuselage at the GPS antenna. Looking forward, the GPS antenna measured 48 inches left (west) of that same line.

The elevator control rod and linkages were continuous from the rear control stick to the point of empennage separation, where the control rod showed approximately 45 degree fracture surface and shear lip edges. Left and right rudder cables were continuous from the front cockpit to the point of empennage failure. The fore and aft ends of both cables had broom-straw characteristics, consistent with overload.

The left wing was separated from the fuselage at the wing root and was lying 17 feet south and west of the impact point on the left (west) side of the fuselage. The aileron was attached to the lower wing section and control continuity was present from the control surface to the point the wing attaches to the fuselage. The aileron control rod was broken near the inboard edge of the wing, with approximately 45 degree fracture surfaces and shear lip edges. The leading edge of the wing was separated from the wing and lying on the ground at the point of impact.

The right wing was separated from the fuselage at the wing root and was lying 29 feet south and west of the impact point behind the fuselage. The aileron was attached and control continuity was present from the control surface to the point the wing attaches to the fuselage. The aileron control rod was broken near the inboard edge of the wing, with approximately 45 degree fracture surfaces and shear lip edges. The leading edge of the wing was separated from the wing and lying on the ground at the point of impact.

The empennage separated from the fuselage at a point equal to the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizers. The left and right stabilizers, vertical stabilizer and rudder were intact and attached to the empennage. Rudder control was continuous from the rudder and rudder cable attach points to the point of separation. Both rudder cables had broom-straw characteristics. Elevator control was continuous from the elevator and elevator control rod attach points to the point of separation. One section of elevator control rod approximately 12 inches long could not be found. Both points where the missing section attached showed 45 degree fracture surfaces and shear lip edges consistent with overload.

The engine was located at the point of impact buried approximately four feet under ground. The aft end of the engine was not visible upon initial examination due to being covered in dirt and debris. Prior to being disturbed for recovery the engine was embedded at a 57 degree angle. Portions of two of the four wood propeller blades were identified near the impact point and aft of the main wreckage. Both blades were broken off near the propeller hub and were splintered outward from the hub attach points.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

An engine exam was performed on June 17, 2008. The oil sump and fuel servo were broken free of the engine case and were not located at the accident site. The top spark plugs were removed and appeared normal as compared to the Champion Aviation Check a Plug Chart AV-27. The valve covers were also removed, hand rotation of the engine was attempted, and partial rotation was achieved. Thumb compression or suction was felt at all cylinders and drive train continuity was established. Bore scope inspection of the cylinders revealed no anomalies. The magnetos were rotated by hand and spark was observed at all leads. The fuel injectors, fuel flow divider, and the oil pressure screen were found free of debris.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Office of the Medical Examiner of Douglas County, located in Omaha, Nebraska, performed an autopsy on the pilot on June 7, 2008. The cause of death was attributed to blunt trauma to the head, chest, abdomen, and extremities, secondary to an airplane crash.

The FAA, Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, conducted toxicological testing on the pilot. Testing for carbon monoxide and cyanide were negative. The following Volatiles and Drugs were detected:

- 10 (mg/dL, mg/hg) Ethanol detected in blood - 2 (mg/dL, mg/hg) N-Propanol detected in blood. - 0.0692 (ug/ml, ug/g) Tetrahydrocannibinol (Marihuana) detected in blood. - 1.5569 (ug/ml, ug/g) Tetrahydrocannibinol (Marihuana) detected in lung. - o.2005 (ug/ml, ug/g) Tetrahydrocannibinol Carboxylic Acid (Marihuana) detected in blood. - 0.349 (ug/ml, ug/g) Tetrahydrocannibinol Carboxylic Acid (Marihuana) detected in urine. - 1.2075 (ug/ml, ug/g) Tetrahydrocannibinol Carboxylic Acid (Marihuana) detected in liver. - 0.0918 (ug/ml, ug/g) Tetrahydrocannibinol Carboxylic Acid (Marihuana) detected in lung.

The following medical information was extracted from the medical records maintained on the pilot by the FAA Aerospace Medical Certification Division:

5/9/08 – the pilot’s most recent application for 1st Class Airman Medical Certificate notes "No" for "Do You Currently Use Any Medication," "No" for all items under "Medical History," including specifically "Substance dependence or failed a drug test ever; or substance abuse or use of illegal substance in the last 2 years," and "No for "Visits to Health Professional Within Last 3 Years." "Total Pilot Time" is noted as 550 hours "To Date" and 125 hours in the "Past 6 months."

Marijuana was found in a backpack pulled from the wreckage. Law enforcement officials estimated the quantity was less than one ounce.

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