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N2935R accident description

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Crash location 42.745000°N, 86.092500°W
Nearest city Holland, MI
42.787523°N, 86.108930°W
3.1 miles away
Tail number N2935R
Accident date 06 Oct 2011
Aircraft type Brinkerhuff Gerald G Q200
Additional details: None
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NTSB Factual Report

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On October 6, 2011, at 1835 eastern daylight time, an amateur-built Brinkerhuff Q-200, N2935R, collided with an approach light and the terrain while landing at the Tulip City Airport (BIV), Holland, Michigan. The pilot sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. The 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions without a flight plan. The pilot was performing touch and go landings at BIV and was then intending to fly to Padgham Airport (35D), Allegan, Michigan.

The airplane was making a landing approach to runway 26 when it contacted an approach light stanchion. The airplane then contacted the ground and came to rest inverted in the grass approximately 134 feet prior to the approach end of the runway.

Two pilots, located on the airport, reported seeing the airplane performing touch and go landings prior to the accident. They stated the airplane and engine appeared and sounded normal. These witnesses reported that the landings appeared to be “picture perfect.” These pilots did not see the accident occur as they became preoccupied with getting their airplane ready for a flight. Another witness on a road that bordered the airport reported seeing the airplane as it approached the airport. This witness reported the airplane's landing approach appeared to be low.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single-engine landing rating issued December 17, 1969, and a mechanic certificate with an airframe and powerplant rating issued December 16, 1970. The pilot was issued a third-class airman medical certificate on July 20, 2011. The medical certificate contained a limitation that glasses must be available for near vision.

A logbook for the pilot obtained during the investigation was marked as logbook number 2. This logbook contained entries dated between January 26, 1973 and September 6, 2011. There were large gaps in the dates between entries. The last total time, 438.7 hours, was noted on June 17, 2007. The next entry, which was also the last entry, did not have the pilot’s total flight time associated with it. This last entry was the only one in the accident airplane and the duration of that flight was listed as 0.3 hours. The logbooks showed that with the exception of the last entry, all of the pilot’s flight time was in airplanes with a single wing arrangement. A friend of the pilot reported that the pilot had about 2 hours of flight time in the accident airplane. The pilot reported having 472 hours of total flight time on his application for his medical certificate.

The pilot was a member of the Marshall Soaring Club. On August 21, 2011, he was the pilot of a glider that was being towed when the tow plane was involved in a fatal accident (CEN11LA585). At that time, he reported having 472 hours of total flight time.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was an amateur-built Brinkerhuff Q-200, serial number 2036, which was built by the pilot from an incomplete kit and other parts. It was a two-seat composite airplane with tandem wings. The forward wing contained the elevators which provided both lift and pitch control. The ailerons were mounted on the inboard section of the aft wing. Pitch and roll were controlled by a stick mounted on the floor between the seats. The rudder was mounted on the tail of the airplane and was controlled with conventional rudder pedals. The airplane was equipped with conventional landing gear with the main gear mounted on the tips of the canard.

The airplane was issued a Special Airworthiness Certificate and operating limitations on July 8, 2011. The airplane was operating in Phase 1 of the Experimental Operation Limitation, which stated that for the first 40 hours of flight time, the airplane must be operated within a 25 mile radius of Padgham Field (35D), Allegan, Michigan. The recording hour (Hobbs) meter showed a time of 6.9 hours.

The airplane was equipped with a Continental O-200-A engine, serial number 61076-5-A.

Records indicate the airplane was fueled with 5 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel on August 2, 2011.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

Weather conditions recorded by the BIV Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS), recorded at 1853, were: calm wind, visibility 10 miles, clear skies, temperature 22 degrees Celsius, dew point 9 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 30.25 inches of mercury.

Sun and moon data obtained by the U.S. Naval Observatory for the date and time of the accident indicate sunset was at 1918. At 1840, the sun was 6.1 degrees above the horizon on an azimuth of 257.2 degrees.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane contacted the left arm of a 14-foot 8-inch tall T-shaped stanchion that was part of the medium intensity approach light system (MALSR). The light stanchion was located about 460 feet from the approach end of the runway. The horizontal arm at the top of the vertical pole contained five lights. The distance between the lights was approximately 2-feet 5-inches. The center light and the two lights to the left of center were knocked off. The pole and mounting arm were painted orange. White paint transfer was visible on the horizontal bar where the lights were mounted and on the diagonal brace that ran from the tip of the horizontal bar down to the vertical pole. The distance between the light pole that was contacted and the next light pole (closest to runway) was 210 feet.

The first pieces of wreckage along the wreckage path were from the elevator trim tab. These pieces were located about 34 feet west of the light stanchion. The first ground impact was 190 feet west of the light stanchion. There was a 10 inch long slash mark in the terrain along with pieces of the propeller near the beginning of the 10 foot long impact mark. Pieces of Plexiglas were also found throughout the main impact mark. The distance from the main impact mark to the main wreckage was 105 feet. The airplane came to rest inverted on a heading of 194 degrees.

There were three punctures on the bottom of the left forward wing. The distances between the marks were 2 feet 6 inches and 2 feet 4 inches. Orange paint transfer was visible on the forward wing and on the front of the landing gear cover. The left elevator remained attached at the inboard attach point. Impact damage was visible on the elevator which correlated with the locations of the punctures on the bottom of the forward wing. The wooden trim tab was broken off and was located near the light stanchion. The right forward wing and elevator remained intact.

The left aft wing was broken about 2 feet 6 inches from the fuselage. The aileron remained attached at the inboard attach point. The empennage was separated from the fuselage in front of the vertical stabilizer with the control cables intact. The tailwheel remained attached to the empennage. The fuselage was cracked just aft of the wing.

Aileron, elevator and rudder flight control continuity was established. The left elevator control rod that was connected to the bottom of the control stick was longer than the right elevator control rod. The left torque rod lever contacted the top of the fuel tank when the control stick was pulled to the aft position preventing the stick from contacting the aft control stop. A notch had been filed in the top of the fuel tank which would have increased the aft travel of the control stick. The throttle was found in the retarded position.

Both propeller blades were separated. Pieces of one blade were found along the wreckage path. The separated piece of the other blade was found lodged in the fuselage.

No fuel was present in the airplane’s fuel tank; however, there was a strong odor of fuel at the accident site and blight was noted on the vegetation near the airplane.

The battery cables were separated from the battery. The cables were pushed in place and an attempt was made to start the engine; however, the starter would not engage due to impact damage. The oil filter mount was loose due to impact damage. Five quarts of oil were indicated on the oil dip stick. The propeller hub cone was not installed on the airplane at the time of the accident. The hub was located inside the pilot’s hangar. The engine was equipped with an electronic ignition system that ignited the top automotive spark plugs. A magneto was installed to ignite the bottom aviation spark plugs. The propeller turned freely by hand. The bottom plugs were removed, the propeller was rotated and compression and suction was noted on all cylinders. The magneto also sparked at the ignition coils for the bottom plugs when the propeller was rotated by hand. The valve continuity was established. Borescope examination of the pistons and cylinders revealed normal operational signatures. The spark plugs appeared relatively new and in good condition. The throttle cable remained connected to the carburetor. The mixture control cable was connected at the carburetor, however it would not move when the cockpit mixture control was moved as it was jammed up against the oil tank which sustained impact damage.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot at Sparrow Health Systems, Lansing, Michigan. The cause of death was attributed to multiple injuries sustained in the accident.

Toxicology testing for the pilot was performed by the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute. The test results were negative for all substances in the screening profile.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The airplane was equipped with a mini-cockpit camera. The camera was sent to the NTSB Recorders Laboratory for review. The data for the camera is stored on a microSD card which was not in the camera. Therefore, no recorded data was retrieved from the camera.

A friend of the pilot provided the following information. The pilot moved the airplane to BIV on July 19, 2011, because he wanted a longer runway for the airplane’s initial test flights. The first flight was on September 6, 2011. Following this flight, the pilot determined he needed to make adjustments to the pitch and lateral control of the airplane. It was determined that the pilot had used the wrong template to set the pitch control limits and that trim tabs needed to be added to the elevators. The pilot subsequently removed the elevators, added the trim tabs, and adjusted the elevator torque rods. The adjustments made when installing the torque rods provided for a 1/4 inch clearance between the torque rod lever arms and the fuel tank. The pilot’s friend stated that when he left the pilot on the day prior to the accident, the pilot indicated that he would take care of the remaining items which consisted of reattaching the elevator trim control wheel, connecting the airbrake control cable to the airbrake, and replacing the interior trim.

A local pilot who was also an airframe and powerplant mechanic spoke with the accident pilot on the day of the accident. He stated the pilot showed him how the elevator control was contacting the fuel tank prior to the control stop.

The throttle in the airplane was located at the bottom center of the instrument panel directly above the control stick. When throttle and control stick application are simultaneously required, the pilot had to reach across to the center of the cockpit with his left hand to control the throttle while the right hand is on the control stick. Quickie Aircraft Corporation plans for building the Q-2/Q-200 state, “It is further recommended that the throttle be located on the left sub panel.” The pilot’s friend stated that he voiced his concerns regarding the throttle position to the pilot.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot failed to maintain sufficient altitude during the landing approach, which resulted in the airplane contacting an approach light. Contributing to the accident was the setting sun, which most likely obscured the pilot’s vision.

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