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N2854L accident description

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Crash location 40.964722°N, 74.783056°W
Nearest city Green Township, NJ
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Tail number N2854L
Accident date 06 Aug 2017
Aircraft type Lester Lydzinski NW-FREEDOM
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On August 6, 2017, about 1025 eastern daylight time, an experimental, amateur-built NW-Freedom, N2854L, was substantially damaged while attempting to depart from Trinca Airport (13N), Green Township, New Jersey. The non-certificated pilot was fatally injured. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and no flight plan was filed for the local, personal flight. The weight-shift-control aircraft was operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the pilot's son, the pilot was the owner-builder of the aircraft, and he had custom-built the airframe himself. He purchased the wing separately from its manufacturer. On the day of the accident, the pilot and a friend transported the aircraft by trailer to 13N, where he planned to fly it for the first time. The pilot had previously received some flight instruction, and had conducted a solo flight in other similar aircraft. On the day of the accident, he initially performed two ground test runs on the turf runway, and then took off. After takeoff, the aircraft drifted slightly to the left, corrected toward the right "a little too much," then drifted left again. About 50 ft above the ground, the wing "collapsed" with its tips rotating aft. The aircraft then descended and impacted the runway. The engine ran continuously for the entire flight, which lasted about 30 seconds.

The pilot's son recalled that while preparing the aircraft for flight, the pilot had some difficulty with one of the cables that ran down the center of the wing (the "cross bar restraint cable" according to the manufacturer's instructions). He said that two people could pull the cable in place easily, but it was difficult for one person to pull. The pilot had used a "ratchet strap" to pull the cable into place.

The aircraft impacted the left edge of runway 24, about 500 ft before the departure end. All major components were accounted for at the scene. The wing, constructed of fabric and aluminum tube, was found partially folded toward its storage position, and separated from the fuselage at its mounting brackets. The right wing strut was fractured about 18 inches below its attachment point to the leading edge. Blue paint transfer, consistent with the color of the propeller, was present on both sides of the fracture. Both flight control frame down tubes were buckled about 12 inches from their upper end. The right washout strut was found out of its installation hole, connected to its bungee cord. The aft flying wires were severed, the left wire was found entangled with propeller leading edge strip material. Both arms of the mast, which connect the wing to the fuselage, were bent toward the left and contained several blue paint transfer marks consistent with the color of the propeller. The cross bar restraint cable remained intact and attached to its forward mounting location. The aft end of the cable was free, and not attached to the "baily block hook" located at the rear of the wing keel tube. The fabric webbing handle used to pull the cable into place was separated from one of its two mounting points, and a 2-inch-long tear was present in the center of the webbing, about ½ inch from its loose end. The other end of the webbing remained attached to its mounting point, with short tears in the center on either side of the mount.

The fuselage came to rest in a cornfield alongside the runway at the end of a wreckage path about 25 feet long and oriented on a heading about 170° magnetic. It was located about 40 feet away from the wing. The forward frame was fractured and bent in several locations. The front (pilot's) seat was separated from the fuselage. The aft seat remained attached. The 12-gallon fuel tank was separated from the fuselage, and was about half full. The ballistic airframe parachute system was intact and was not activated. The four-stroke, two-cylinder engine was largely undamaged, and rotated smoothly. Two of the composite propeller blades were fractured and splintered along their span, the third blade was fractured at the hub and not found. An 8-inch section of flying cable sheathing was found embedded in one blade.

The aircraft maintenance records were not located. The Hobbs meter read 26.6 hours. The pilot's son recalled that the aircraft had been inspected at one time, but he did not recall any further maintenance details.

According to Federal Aviation Administration records, the pilot did not possess an airman or medical certificate.

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