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N956DB accident description

Maryland map... Maryland list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Edgewater, MD
38.957057°N, 76.549962°W
Tail number N956DB
Accident date 21 Nov 1998
Aircraft type Burgess RV-6
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On November 21, 1998, at 1743 eastern standard time, a homebuilt RV-6, N956DB, was destroyed when it impacted in Beard's Creek near Lee Airport in Annapolis, Maryland. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed. The personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91, and originated at Lantana Airport, West Palm Beach, Florida, at 0930. The intended destination was Annapolis, Maryland.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector, the pilot obtained a weather briefing from the Miami Flight Service Station for a flight to Maryland. His route of flight according to a route detail found in the wreckage, included fuel stops in Brunswick, Georgia, and Elizabethtown, North Carolina. His final destination was Annapolis, Maryland. According to fuel records obtained from Glynco Jetport Airport, Georgia, the pilot purchased 21.7 gallons of fuel. There were no other records of any additional fuel stops.

There were several witnesses who heard an airplane over fly their homes at a low altitude, but they did not see the airplane. One of the witnesses reported that it was dark, and she heard an airplane engine sputtering, and a "loud crackling sound" in what she stated sounded like an airplane hitting trees.

Another witness said he saw an airplane flying just above the trees near to the airport. He felt that the airplane was "extremely low." He continued to look towards the airport to see if the airplane had touched down, but it disappeared from his view.

One of the residents said that while raking leaves in his backyard he found a section of an airplane. Examination of the airplane part revealed it was the left wingtip of the accident airplane. This resident lived about a mile from the airport.

Search efforts located the airplane, about 0300, the following morning in Beard's creek. The airplane came to rest inverted in about 18 feet of water, and 4 feet of mud about 1/4 mile off the departure end of runway 30.

The accident occurred during the hours of a dark night approximately 38 degrees, 56 minutes north latitude, and 76 degrees, 34 minutes west longitude.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. According to the pilot's log book, he logged over 1,345 hours of total flight experience which included 31 hours in make and model. The last entry in the log book was dated August 13, 1998, and there was no record that the pilot had ever flown into this airport. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Second Class Medical Certificate was issued on February 25, 1997.


According to the airplane tachometer, the airplane had accumulated 54.6 hours of total flight time. The airplane log book was not located.


The 1754 local weather observation from Baltimore Washington International Airport about 16 miles northwest of the accident site was as follows:

Sky condition, 4,800 feet broken; visibility, 10 miles; temperature, 43 degrees Fahrenheit (F); dew point, 27 F; wind condition, 280 degrees at 7 knots; and altimeter, 30.25 inches Hg.


The airplane wreckage was examined at the accident site on November 21, 1998. The examination revealed that all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene, and that the airplane came to rest inverted in about 18 feet of water, and 4 feet of mud about 1/4 mile off the extended centerline of runway 30. The wreckage was located to the right of the centerline, beyond the tree line.

The airplane was removed from the creek, and towed to the shore where it was examined. The examination included confirming flight control continuity to the right aileron and elevator from the cockpit. Both wings remained attached to the fuselage, except both wing tips which separated. The left wingtip was located in a resident's yard. Tree impact scars were located in the area where the left wingtip was found. The trees were about 75 feet tall, and were located about a mile from the airport, in line with the runway. The outboard section of both wings sustained leading edge imprints similar in size to the trees where the left wingtip was found.

The engine was lubricated and both propeller blades were straight. There was no external evidence of any catastrophic engine failure. The engine was prepared for an engine test run while still attached to the main wreckage and positioned on a flat bed trailer. The test run was completed on December 3, 1998, and was supervised by a Federal Aviation Administration Inspector.

According to a Lycoming Investigator, who was present at the test run, an external fuel supply was attached to the engine fuel system to include the operation of the engine driven fuel pump. The damaged exhaust system was removed. An external battery power supply was connected to the engine starter to start the engine for the test run.

The first attempt to start the engine was unsuccessful. Before the second attempt, the bottom spark plugs, intakes, carburetor bowl drain plug and magneto plugs were removed and water was removed from the engine and accessories. Due to the moisture in the engine, the second attempt was also unsuccessful. A thumb compression check and engine drive continuity check was then completed satisfactorily.

When the spark producing capabilities of the magnetos was done, they produced a weak spark due to the moisture. A starting fluid was used to assist the starting process on the third attempt. The engine started and ran on the third attempt. During the engine run there were no abnormalities found. A copy of the report is appended.

Examination of the airframe and engine did not disclose any evidence of mechanical malfunction.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot, on November 22, 1998, by Dr. Margarita A. Korell, of the State of Maryland Medical Examiners Office, Baltimore, Maryland.

The toxicological testing report from the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the following:

Cimetidine detected in Urine Sildenafil detected in Liver Fluid Sildenafil Metabolite detected in Urine 10 (ug/ml, ug/g) Theophylline detected in Urine


According to the Airport Facility Directory, it states in part, "Runway 30 threshold relocated 323 feet; 1,704 feet of runway available at night."

Wreckage Release

The airplane wreckage was released on December 3, 1998, to a representative of Crittenden Adjustment Company, the owner's insurance company.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate altitude/clearance from the trees. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's unfamiliarity with the geographic location and dark night conditions.

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