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N42EX accident description

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Tail numberN42EX
Accident dateJune 15, 2007
Aircraft typeShepard Lancair Propjet
LocationPortland, OR
Near 45.448055 N, -122.697777 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On June 15, 2007, approximately 0858 Pacific daylight time, a Shepard Lancair Propjet amateur-built experimental airplane, N42EX, impacted terrain in an uncontrolled descent within the city limits of Portland, Oregon. The airplane was destroyed, and the three occupants, the private pilot and two passengers, were killed. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the departure from Hillsboro, Oregon, at 0853. An instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed and opened for the personal cross country flight, which was destined for Twin Falls, Idaho.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control personnel, after takeoff from Hillsboro, the airplane was radar identified, and the pilot was issued vectors on course. The last transmission received from the pilot was at 0854:41, when the pilot acknowledged receipt of a clearance. At 0858:49, the controller attempted to contact the pilot stating that radar contact with the airplane was lost. There was no response from the pilot.

Radar data provided by the FAA shows the airplane departing Hillsboro, proceeding on course to the east southeast and climbing to an altitude of 8,100 feet mean sea level (msl). At 0857:23, the airplane begins to descend and enters a right turn. The last radar return was recorded at 0858:01 and places the airplane at 3,300 feet msl about 1/4 mile east of the accident site.

Witnesses reported that the airplane crashed in the backyard of a residence about 12 miles southeast of Hillsboro Airport. One witness said that he observed the airplane emerge from an overcast cloud layer in a near vertical attitude traveling at a high rate of speed. The witness reported that the airplane was complete (having a tail and wings). He watched the airplane for a few seconds before it disappeared behind trees and impacted the ground. The witness estimated his distance from the impact site at 200 yards and reported the weather was "low clouds, marginal visibility and light rain."

Another witness said that he "heard [a] racing engine extremely loud and close" and then got a glimpse of the airplane. This witness reported that the weather was "slight drizzle heavy overcast."

Surface weather observations near the time of the accident from airports surrounding the accident site indicated few to scattered clouds at around 1,000 feet msl, a broken layer at 2,500 to 3,000 feet msl, and an overcast cloud layer at 4,000 to 5,000 feet msl. An infrared satellite image for the approximate accident time indicated cloud tops varying between about 8,500 and 11,500 feet msl along the airplane's route of flight. Pilot reports estimated cloud tops in the Portland area to be about 11,000 to 12,000 feet msl. Overlaying the airplane's radar track on Portland Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler base reflectivity images indicated the airplane was in an area of radar echoes consistent with clouds from 0856 until radar contact was lost. For further meteorological information see the Meteorology Factual Report contained in the public docket for this accident.

FAA inspectors responded to the scene of the accident and reported that the engine and propeller were buried about 3 feet deep in an impact crater. A debris field extended at least 25 to 60 feet beyond the impact point in all directions. No evidence of an in-flight breakup was found. All observed aircraft components had sustained severe impact damage. Control continuity could not be confirmed due to the extent of damage to the airplane. All cockpit instruments and avionics were destroyed. Examination of the wreckage revealed no obvious indications of mechanical malfunction or failure.

The pilot, age 64, held a private pilot certificate with airplane single engine land and an instrument airplane rating. Review of the pilot's personal flight logbook revealed that he had accumulated a total of 1,385 flight hours with 114 hours in the accident airplane. His total logged instrument experience was 158 hours of which 67 hours were in IMC. The pilot completed a flight review in the accident airplane on January 24, 2007, and an instrument proficiency check on January 28, 2007. Following the proficiency check, the pilot logged one flight with 0.3 hours actual instrument time and one instrument approach on March 13, 2007.

An autopsy of the pilot was performed by the Oregon State Medical Examiner. The cause of death was determined to be multiple traumatic injuries. Toxicology tests by the FAA's Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory were negative for ethanol and drugs.

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