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N3R accident description

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Crash location 41.324445°N, 70.573889°W
Nearest city Martha'S Vineyard, MA
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Tail number N3R
Accident date 03 Aug 2002
Aircraft type Crawford Widebody Long EZ
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On August 3, 2002, about 1230 eastern daylight time, a homebuilt Widebody Long EZ, N3R, was substantially damaged during collision with the Atlantic Ocean while maneuvering near Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. The certificated commercial pilot/owner suffered a medical emergency, and died prior to the accident. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the public use flight that originated at the Barnstable Municipal Airport (HYA), Hyannis, Massachusetts. A visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan was filed for the local research flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to a scientist from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the pilot's colleague, the purpose of the flight was to gather data for a NOAA research project. The airplane was built, outfitted, and instrumented by the pilot to measure the exchange of heat, moisture, and momentum between the ocean and the atmosphere. The data was gathered and stored in a "lunchbox" personal computer mounted behind the pilot's station.

The pilot was to duplicate a flight he performed the previous day. On August 2, 2002, the pilot departed Barnstable Airport, and flew to a point in the open ocean where several research buoys were deployed. He then flew repeated low-level passes about 30 feet above the ocean surface over the buoys. Some legs were north-south "saw-tooth" flight patterns over the same buoys. The saw-tooth patterns required several slow ascents and descents between 30 feet and 750 feet above the surface. The pilot then flew four east-west legs, and returned to Barnstable Airport. During the flight over the buoys, the pilot called his colleague over the radio every 10 to 15 minutes to "check in," and relay a status report. The flight was 2.9 hours in duration.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic information, the airplane departed Barnstable Airport, at 1159, on the morning of the accident. The pilot activated his VFR flight plan, effective at 1200, and was due back at Barnstable at 1530. There were no further communications between FAA facilities and the pilot. According to his colleague, the only radio call from the pilot was immediately after takeoff when he said, "I'm heading out to the site."

About 1500, the pilot of a passing airplane spotted the wreckage of the accident airplane afloat in the ocean. The wreckage was located at 41 degrees, 19 minutes, 28 seconds north latitude, 70 degrees, 34 minutes, 26 seconds west longitude.

The wreckage was recovered, and subsequently examined by an inspector of the Aeronautics Commission for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The examination revealed no mechanical anomalies. According to the inspector, flight control continuity was established from the cockpit to the left aileron and rudder. Continuity could not be established to the right aileron and rudder, due to breaks in each cable. All cable breaks were "broomstrawed."

The rudder pedals were separated from the airplane, and were not recovered. The three wooden propeller blades were broken to within 8 inches of the hub. All thee blades were splintered and "broomstrawed."

The Associate Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Pocasset, Massachusetts, performed an autopsy on the pilot. According to the medical examiner's report, the pilot suffered a "massive subarachnoid hemorrhage," with the source unidentified. Additional injuries, which were incurred when the airplane impacted the water, "occurred after death."

The weather reported at an airport, 6 miles northwest of the crash site included clear skies with 10 miles of visibility. The wind was from 250 degrees at 8 knots.

NTSB Probable Cause

Pilot incapacitation from a massive subarachnoid hemorrhage (stroke.)

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