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N316DA accident description

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Crash location 42.351111°N, 86.255556°W
Nearest city South Haven, MI
42.403087°N, 86.273641°W
3.7 miles away
Tail number N316DA
Accident date 15 Jul 2006
Aircraft type Armpriest Breezy
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On July 15, 2006, at 1430 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Armpriest Breezy, N316DA, owned and piloted by a private pilot, was destroyed when it impacted a drainage ditch during an initial climb from takeoff on runway 22 (4,801 feet by 75 feet, asphalt) at South Haven Area Regional Airport (LWA), South Haven, Michigan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was not operating on a flight plan. The pilot sustained serious injuries and the passenger was fatally injured. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and was en route to Mishawaka Pilots Club Airport, Elkhart, Indiana.

The pilot reported that during takeoff with about "3/4 of the runway gone, there was a pronounced vibration from [the] engine." The pilot stated he pulled the throttle back to idle but a "substantial" vibration was still present. The pilot reported he shut the engine off and attempted to land on runway 14 (3,275 feet by 190 feet, turf) at LWA. The pilot stated he was unaware of what happened that prevented the flight from being safe.

A witness reported he saw the airplane flying about 500 feet above ground level at a heading of approximately 320 magnetic degrees. He reported that the nose of the airplane was moving up and down, and the airplane appeared to be moving slow and stalling. He reported that he saw a shiny, dark blue object, about 2 square feet fall from the airplane. He stated that the airplane made a steep left turn and impacted the ground at approximately a 45 degree pitch angle.

A second witness reported the airplane departed runway 22 and made a midfield right turn. As the airplane was turning, the witness stated a luggage compartment lid separated from the airplane. The witness stated the airplane turned right about 200 degrees and descended at approximately a 60 degree pitch angle with left wing down.

Post accident inspection of the airplane by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed the baggage compartment cover detached from the airplane while it was in flight. The compartment cover was retrieved between the takeoff point and the airplane's point of impact. The propeller and compartment cover were both damaged. The cover was mounted behind the passenger seat and in front of the engine and propeller. The cover was attached with two latches and J-hook mechanisms. There was a latch mechanism on the left side and another on the right side of the baggage compartment. The latch assembly could be locked into place using a small pad lock. Both latches were found in the locked position. One J-hook was found intact and the other hook was missing.

According to the FAA, the airplane had not received a conditional inspection within the required preceding 12-month period prior to the accident.

NTSB Probable Cause

The inadvertent stall by pilot during climb following propeller blade damage from the compartment door separation after takeoff. The low altitude and airspeed not maintained by the pilot were additional causes. Contributing factors were the compartment door separation and the propeller foreign object damage.

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