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N9097E accident description

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Tail numberN9097E
Accident dateSeptember 21, 1997
Aircraft typeJohn W. Culp KR-2
LocationGreenwood, SC
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On September 21, 1997, at 0930 eastern daylight time, a John W. Culp, KR-2, an experimental airplane, N9097E, collided with the ground about 1/4 mile northeast of the Greenwood County Airport in Greenwood, South Carolina. The personal flight operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 with no flight plan filed. According to weather data from the nearest weather reporting facility, visual weather conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The airplane was destroyed, and the pilot received fatal injuries. The local flight's exact departure time from the Greenwood County Airport in Greenwood, South Carolina, was not determined.

At 0930, an eyewitness driving a four wheel all terrain vehicle, observed an airplane flying east of his location. The eyewitness was about 1/2 mile northeast of the Greenwood Airport. He recalled that the airplane was descending at an approximate 40 degree nose down attitude. The airplane did a roll maneuver, and descended below the tree tops. The airplane did not reappear above the trees.

The circumstances and reasons for the flight are not known. However, on September 22, 1997, the employees at the airplane owner's business became concerned when he did not arrive at work. After a ground search for the pilot and airplane, at the airport and surrounding area, the airplane wreckage and pilot were located 1/4 mile northeast of the airport. There were no eyewitnesses to the accident, but the airplane was believed to have been seen flying near the airport on the morning of the accident.

An on-scene examination of the accident site disclosed that the airplane impacted the ground on a 170 degree magnetic heading and at about a 60 degree nose down angle. The wreckage debris was confined to a 50 foot radius. All major aircraft structural components were located, and examined at the accident site. During the examination of the airframe it appeared that the part of the right wing spar had been cut out where the wings attach to the airframe. The right wing assembly was located at the accident site with the main wreckage. The flight controls, attach fittings and control cables were also examined at the accident site. This examination disclosed that all control cables were connected to their respective control surfaces. However, the aircraft cabin canopy was not located. Nor the smell of fuel or a visual sign of fuel spillage was observed at the accident site. An examination of the pilot's restraint system disclosed that it was not damaged, and that it was unbuckled.

The engine and propeller assemblies were buried about a foot into the ground. Debris from the wood propeller blade assembly was found adjacent to the engine and propeller assemblies.

During a telephone conversation with a mechanic from Greenwood Airport, he stated that he arrived at the accident site before the aircraft wreckage was recovered. He recalled that that the cabin canopy was not seen at the scene nor was it recovered from the accident site. The mechanic confirmed that the aircraft wreckage was located in the traffic pattern for runway 36.

During a telephone conversation with the Federal Aviation Administration Designated Airworthiness Representative (FAA-DAR), who issued the aircraft airworthiness certificate, he recalled the airplane and the inspection procedures. According to the FAA-DAR, there were several problems observed with the airplane during his first inspection, and the airplane failed FAA certification requirements. The pilot/owner was informed of the failure and was instructed to complete the certification requirements. On the second inspection, the airplane was issued an Experimental Aircraft Airworthiness Certificate. The FAA-DAR recalled that the airplane was airworthy and was completely intact. The owner was issued his Experimental Operation Limitation and briefed on the content. The owner was instructed to follow the operating limitation that included him informing the FAA of any major modification to the aircraft. According to the FAA-DAR, the saw cut in the right wing spar is considered as a major modification to the airframe.

A post mortem examination of the pilot was conducted by Dr. Sexton of the Newberry Pathology Service of Newberry, South Carolina. Toxicological examination of the pilot was conducted by the Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, FAA. The toxicological examinations were negative for alcohol and drugs. The pilot was located 150 feet southeast of the main wreckage.

Reportedly, the pilot had stated that, if he ever experienced any in-flight difficulty with the airplane he would jump out of the airplane. No parachute was recovered from the accident site nor was there a parachute on the pilot.

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