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N13NG accident description

Nevada map... Nevada list
Crash location 39.668334°N, 119.876389°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city Reno, NV
39.529633°N, 119.813803°W
10.1 miles away
Tail number N13NG
Accident date 11 Sep 2007
Aircraft type Rose Peregrine
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On September 11, 2007, approximately 1740 Pacific daylight time, a Rose Peregrine experimental racing bi-plane, N13NG, impacted the terrain soon after taking off from runway 08 at Reno-Stead Airport, Reno, Nevada. The commercial pilot, who was the sole occupant, was killed, and the airplane, which was registered to a friend of the pilot, sustained substantial damage. The 14 CFR Part 91 pre-race pilot qualification and airplane test flight was being conducted in visual meteorological conditions. No flight plan had been filed.

According to witnesses, just after takeoff on Runway 08 as the airplane reached an altitude of about 80 feet above the runway, smoke started coming from the lower part of the engine cowling, and the airplane's propeller stopped turning. As the airplane started to descend, the pilot appeared to attempt to turn left in order to land on a crossing runway (Runway 32), but during the turn the airplane appeared to stall and descend into the terrain. The airplane was recovered, and the engine, which had been modified for racing, was torn down and inspected by an associate of the owner.

According to the owner, no pre-impact anomalies or malfunctions were discovered during the teardown, except that the exhaust system heat wrap covering near the crankcase breather was covered by a film of oil residue. The conclusion of the owner was that the increase in power and the pitch of the newly installed propeller allowed the engine to overspeed, resulting in the pressurization of the crankcase, and the ejection of an oil mist onto the exhaust system heat wrap. The owner believes that this resulted in the creation of smoke that got into the cockpit, which lead the pilot to believe that he may have had an in-flight fire. The owner said that he believes that the pilot, thinking he may have had an in-flight fire, shut the engine down, and attempted a landing on the crossing runway.

During the investigation, it was determined that this was the first flight of the airplane since the engine had been modified to produce more power, and since the airframe had been modified in an attempt to achieve a higher race airspeed. According to the owner, the engine was operating at a compression ratio of 13.5 to 1, and with the newly installed propeller, the engine had reached an on-ground static speed of 3,800 rpm.

NTSB Probable Cause

The overspeed of the modified racing engine during takeoff that created an oil mist on the exhaust and smoke, and the pilot's failure to maintain a speed above stall speed (Vs) during his attempted emergency landing. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's diverted attention due to the smoke and the reasonable belief that an in-flight engine compartment fire was occurring.

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