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N31066 accident description

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Tail numberN31066
Accident dateJuly 20, 1998
Aircraft typeBaggarley GLASAIR II-FT
LocationVernonia, OR
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On July 20, 1998, approximately 1030 Pacific daylight time, a Baggarley Glasair II-FT experimental-category airplane, N31066, departed Tillamook, Oregon for Kelso, Washington, 57 nautical miles northeast of Tillamook. The private pilot-in-command, who owned and had built the airplane and was its sole occupant, did not file a flight plan for the 14 CFR 91 personal flight. The airplane failed to arrive at its destination. The automated flight service station (AFSS) at McMinnville, Oregon was notified at 1444 that the airplane was overdue, and an Alert Notice (ALNOT) was issued on the missing aircraft. At 1424, an individual in Vernonia, Oregon (37 nautical miles northeast of Tillamook, approximately on the direct line from Tillamook to Kelso) made an emergency call to local authorities and reported that she had found airplane wreckage on her property approximately 1 mile northeast of the town of Vernonia. The substantially damaged airplane wreckage was subsequently determined to be that of N31066, and the pilot was found to be dead at the scene. Two nearby weather reporting stations (Hillsboro, Oregon and Kelso) reported visual meteorological conditions during the entire time frame between the flight's departure from Tillamook and the location and identification of the aircraft wreckage.

The accident site was on a tree farm, with trees in the area varying in height from 3 feet to over 200 feet. According to the Columbia County, Oregon, sheriff's report of the incident, the wreckage path began with a broken treetop at an estimated height of 90 to 100 feet and a scar on a second tree, at an estimated height of 50 to 60 feet, 60 to 80 feet southeast of the broken treetop. The main airplane wreckage was found upright on the ground, on a northwesterly heading, approximately 180 feet southeast of the two tree scars. The nose section of the airplane, comprising the engine and nose gear, had separated from the remainder of the airframe, and was located approximately 60 feet northwest of the main aircraft wreckage. A ground scar was also located approximately 60 feet northwest of the separated engine and nose gear. The sheriff's report stated that the pilot was found in the right seat of the airplane, with his legs across the cabin to the left side and his back to the right side.

An FAA investigator from the Hillsboro, Oregon, Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) responded to the accident scene and performed an on-site examination. The FAA investigator reported finding no evidence of a preimpact malfunction in the airframe or its systems. There was no evidence of fire in the wreckage. The left and right fuel tanks were broken open and empty. A photo of the aircraft instrument panel obtained from the wreckage recovery firm, HLM Air Services Inc. of Independence, Oregon, showed the aircraft's attitude indicator captured at approximately 150 degrees left bank, and the aircraft's turn coordinator captured at a left turn indication of approximately 1 1/2 times standard rate.

FAA and Textron Lycoming investigators performed a follow-up examination of the aircraft's engine at the facilities of HLM Air Services, Inc., Independence, Oregon, on July 29, 1998. The FAA and Textron Lycoming investigators reported that the engine, originally manufactured by Textron Lycoming as a carbureted Lycoming O-320-A2B rated at 150 horsepower, had been modified by replacement of the carburetor with a fuel injection system. The FAA and Textron Lycoming investigators reported finding some fine particulate rust-like contamination in the fuel inside the fuel injection servo (a Bendix RSA-5AD1), but that fuel system components downstream of the servo (i.e. lines, spider, and injection nozzles at each cylinder) were unobstructed. Clean fuel was found in the aircraft's fuel filter, upstream of the servo. Both propeller blades were bent backward and one blade displayed slight torsional twist, but neither blade displayed significant chordwise scratching. The FAA and Textron Lycoming investigators reported finding no other evidence of a preimpact engine mechanical malfunction.

An autopsy on the pilot was performed by the Oregon State Medical Examiner, Portland, Oregon, on July 21, 1998. The cause of the pilot's death was ruled to be blunt impact injuries to the head and extremities, with a contributing cause of arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease. A pathological diagnosis of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease was noted in the autopsy report, with focal severe (greater than 90% occlusion) left anterior descending coronary artery atherosclerosis and diffuse mild-to-moderate coronary artery atherosclerosis. The autopsy report did not document any fractures to the pilot's hands. The pilot, who held a third class FAA medical certificate dated July 11, 1997, was one day short of his 72nd birthday on the date of the accident.

Toxicological testing on the pilot was conducted by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The CAMI toxicology tests screened for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, and drugs and did not detect any of these substances.

According to the FAA aircraft registry, the airplane received original FAA experimental-category airworthiness certification on June 4, 1996. Engine maintenance records examined by Textron Lycoming investigators indicated that the aircraft had about 125.7 hours airframe total time, and the engine had approximately 425.7 hours since major overhaul. FAA records indicated that the pilot reported 300 total civil pilot hours at the time of his most recent FAA medical examination.

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