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N6GN accident description

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Crash location 26.641111°N, 80.289722°W
Nearest city Wellington, FL
26.658678°N, 80.241436°W
3.2 miles away
Tail number N6GN
Accident date 19 Aug 2007
Aircraft type Niva Thorp T-18
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On August 19, 2007, at 0928 eastern daylight time, a Thorp T-18 experimental airplane, N6GN, crashed into a field shortly after takeoff from the Wellington Aero Club Airport (FD38), West Palm Beach, Florida. The certificated private pilot and passenger were killed, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The flight was operated as a personal flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, and no flight plan was filed. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed at the time of the accident.

Witnesses stated that about 300 feet above the ground, in level flight, the airplane’s engine quit. The airplane was then observed executing a left turn in an attempt to return to the airport. During the left turn, the airplane began to descend at a rapid rate impacting the ground.

The pilot, age 40, held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating, issued on February 17, 2005, and a second-class medical certificate issued on September 22, 2004, with no restrictions.

Examination of the accident site by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) found that the airplane had impacted the ground in a slightly nose and right wing low attitude sliding 129 feet before coming to rest. Examination of the wreckage found the engine separated from its mounts and angled to the right. The right wing had separated outboard of the wing flap.

Examination of the engine by the FAA found that the engine rotated freely and had continuity through the accessory section. Water was observed in various portions of the fuel system. The most significant amount of water was noted in the electric fuel pump. The gascolator filter bowl was dislodged during impact. Corrosion was noted in the bottom of the gascolator bowl. Surface corrosion was also noted on the filter screen of the servo fuel injector unit. Upon disassembly a droplet of water was noted within the fuel manifold. A visual inspection was conducted of the servo fuel injector assembly. The foam air filter element was found lodged in the inlet of the throttle body. Normally, the filter element is positioned at the opening of the induction system intake. According to the pilot’s father, the airplane was extremely difficult to start when the engine was at operating temperature. The airplane’s logbooks were not located, and the airplane’s most recent inspection could not be determined.

An autopsy was performed on the pilot on August 20, 2007 by the Office of the District Medical Examiner, District 15 - State of Florida, Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach, Florida. The autopsy findings reported the cause of death as multiple blunt traumatic injuries.

Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the Federal Aviation Administration, Aeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report stated that no Carbon Monoxide, Cyanide or Ethanol was detected in blood or vitreous fluid. However, Citalopram, N-Desmethylcitalopram and DI-N-Desmethylcitalopram were present in blood, and urine.

NTSB Probable Cause

A loss of engine power due to a partially blocked intake manifold and water contamination of the fuel.

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