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N555L accident description

Maryland map... Maryland list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Friendly, MD
38.751781°N, 76.978586°W
Tail number N555L
Accident date 02 Jun 1999
Aircraft type Saliba LONG EZ
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On June 2, 1999, at 0937 Eastern Daylight Time, a homebuilt Long EZ, N555L, was destroyed during an emergency approach to Potomac Airfield (VKX), Friendly, Maryland. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was filed for the flight, between Washington Executive/Hyde Field (W32), Clinton, Maryland, and Middle Georgia Regional Airport (MCN), Macon, Georgia. The personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to witnesses, the airplane departed Clinton about 0830, and was later seen north of Potomac Airfield, flying low. Another pilot in the traffic pattern at Potomac saw the accident airplane, and requested the pilot's intentions. There was no response, but the accident airplane appeared to enter a right base for Runway 24. The airplane overshot the runway, then turned back, and entered a left base for the same runway. It overshot the final approach course, but corrected with a steep turn, and "continued making 'S' turns down final approach. [It] started getting very close to the trees; I could see [the] shadow almost touch the plane." The airplane then "pitched up...and mushed down into trees about 200 yards short of 24. It appeared the prop was windmilling a few seconds before [the airplane] hit the trees."

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector, cut trees were found leading to the wreckage, one blade of the wooden propeller was fractured while the other had split a small tree trunk, and fuel was found onboard the airplane. The airplane's canopy was found about 2 miles away, in the Potomac River.

The inspector further stated:

"There were no visible marks or concerns pertinent to the canopy or latching mechanism.... The latching mechanism operated normally - the safety latch appeared functional. The screw holes on [the] canopy hinges were enlarged due to screws that were pulled through holes when canopy separated from aircraft."

Another Long EZ owner informed the Inspector that the latching mechanism consisted of three latches with a safety lock. He also noted that a Long EZ would be difficult to control without a canopy.

Maintenance information about the airplane was not recovered.

Winds, reported at an airport 6 nautical miles to the northeast, 14 minutes after the accident, were from 200 degrees magnetic, at 11 knots.

NTSB Probable Cause

The separation of the airplane canopy for undetermined reasons, the diminished controllability of the airplane, and the pilot's failure to maintain airspeed resulting in a stall/mush into trees short of the runway.

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