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N511MD accident description

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Crash location 38.970000°N, 75.866389°W
Nearest city Ridgely, MD
38.947891°N, 75.884381°W
1.8 miles away
Tail number N511MD
Accident date 09 Sep 2008
Aircraft type Dufault Mark V Pitts S-1D
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On September 9, 2008, about 1900 eastern daylight time, an experimental, amateur built, Dufault Pitts S-1D, N511MD, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain at Ridgely Airpark (RJD), Ridgely, Maryland. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight conducted under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector, On September 10, 2008, a family member discovered the pilot, and wreckage of the airplane, on the airport grounds at approximately 0218. There were no witnesses to the accident. The time of the accident was estimated by the FAA. The last contact with the pilot by his family had been at approximately 1800.


According to FAA pilot and medical records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. At the time of the accident he did not hold a valid medical certificate. His most recent application for an FAA third-class medical certificate had been on June 28, 2001. He reported 750 total hours of flight experience on that date.


According to FAA records, the airplane was registered to the builder on June 11, 1999 and received its special airworthiness certificate on September 7, 1999.

According to the builder he had sold the airplane in 2003 to an individual in Maine. At the time of the sale the airplane had approximately 400 hours, and was sold to the individual with a complete set of maintenance records.

In 2006, the airplane was sold to the pilot involved in the accident. The wings were removed and the airplane was trucked to RJD. Sometime after the airplane arrived at RJD the wings were reattached.

In 2007 the builder of the airplane was contacted by the accident pilot and asked to come to RJD to re-rig the flight controls. After the builder rigged the flight controls he refused to make an entry in the airframe logbook for the work performed, as the FAA required annual conditional inspection, had not been performed.

During the investigation, no maintenance records for the airplane were located by the FAA or the NTSB.


A review of weather observations prior to the accident revealed that a wind shift had occurred, the wind velocity trend was decreasing, and a small temperature dew point spread existed.

A weather observation taken about 1857 (approximately 2 minutes before the accident) at Easton / Newnam Field Airport (ESN), Easton, Maryland, located approximately 14 nautical miles southwest of the accident site, recorded the wind as calm, visibility 7 miles, scattered clouds at 3,500 feet, temperature 23 degrees C, dew point 22 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.02 inches of mercury.

According to the United States Naval Observatory at the time of the accident, the sun was low on the horizon and sunset would have occurred at 1921.

Additionally, a weather observation taken about 1957 at ESN recorded that the wind had remained calm. The temperature and dew point were both at 23 degrees C, and according to the Maryland State Police, and the United States Coast Guard, fog was present at the accident site.


According to the Airport Facility Directory, RJD was a public use airport. It did not have a control tower. It had one runway, oriented in a 12/30 configuration. Runway 30 was asphalt, in good condition. It was 3,214 feet long by 50 feet wide. The runway had non-precision markings that were in fair condition. It was equipped with low intensity runway edge lights, and runway end identifier lights. Sixty foot trees existed 594 feet from the approach end of the runway which required a 6:1 slope to clear.


Examination of the airplane and accident site by an FAA inspector revealed that the airplane had come to rest against the base of a tree approximately 600 feet west-northwest from the arrival end of runway 30.

Ground scars and the main landing gear assembly where discovered approximately 75 feet prior to where the airplane had come to rest.

Further examination revealed that the airplane was not equipped with position lights, a rotating beacon, communications equipment, or an emergency locator transmitter. No evidence of any preimpact malfunctions or failures of the airplane, engine, or flight controls were discovered.


A post mortem examination was performed on the pilot by the State of Maryland's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Toxicological testing of the pilot was conducted at the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


According to FAA Advisory Circular 00-6A, Aviation Weather for Pilots and Flight Operations Personnel, Fog is a surface based cloud composed of either water droplets or ice crystals. Fog is the most frequent cause of surface visibility below 3 miles, and is one of the most common and persistent weather hazards encountered in aviation. The rapidity with which fog can form makes it especially hazardous. It is not unusual for visibility to drop from Visual Flight Reference (VFR) to less than a mile in a few minutes. It is primarily a hazard during takeoff and landing, but it is also important to VFR pilots who must maintain visual reference to the ground.

Small temperature-dew point spread is essential for fog to form. Therefore, fog is prevalent in coastal areas where moisture is abundant. However, fog can occur anywhere. Abundant condensation nuclei enhances the formation of fog. Thus, fog is prevalent in industrial areas where byproducts of combustion provide a high concentration of these nuclei. Fog occurs most frequently in the colder months, but the season and frequency of occurrence vary from one area to another.

Fog may form (1) by cooling air to its dew point, or (2) by adding moisture to air near the ground. Fog is classified by the way it forms. Formation may involve more than one process.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's inadequate preflight weather evaluation which resulted in an attempted landing in fog and subsequent impact with terrain.

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