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N86657 accident description

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Crash location 39.683333°N, 84.250000°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 West Carrollton, OH
39.696700°N, 84.218600°W
1.9 miles away

Tail number N86657
Accident date 17 Jun 2008
Aircraft type Helton Lark 95
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On June 17, 2008, at 1036 eastern daylight time, a Helton Lark 95, N86657, collided with a utility pole, a light pole, and a tree in West Carrollton, Ohio, following a loss of engine power. The airplane departed runway 26 at the Moraine Airpark (I73), Moraine, Ohio, just prior to the accident. The airline transport pilot (ATP) was fatally injured. The sole passenger on board received serious injuries. The Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 ferry flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions. No flight plan was filed. The flight was originating at the time of the accident. The intended destination was Reno, Nevada. The location of en route stops was not determined.

The airplane had recently been sold and the pilot was contacted by an aircraft broker to ferry it from Moraine, Ohio, to the new owner in Reno, Nevada.

The passenger recalled taking off and the airplane entering a "sharp left turn." She did not recall the pilot stating what the problem was, nor did she recall what altitude they had achieved. She did state that the engine was running when the airplane entered the left bank.

A witness reported the airplane sounded fine when it took off, but when it was over the river, at an altitude of 200-250 feet above the ground, the engine started to lose power and sputter. The airplane banked to the left and nosed down. The witness reported that when the airplane was about 50 feet above the ground, the nose of the airplane rose and the wing contacted a utility pole. The airplane then descended out of his view.

Another witness reported he came out of his garage when he heard a loud engine noise. He reported that the airplane was in a left bank and the engine was very loud like the "...manifold had come off." He reported he also occasionally heard a "...popping sound, like a back-fire."


The pilot, age 37, held ATP, certified flight instructor (CFI), and ground instructor certificates. The ATP certificate contained an airplane multi-engine land rating with commercial privileges for airplane single-engine land. The ATP certificate also contained type ratings for A-320, CL-65, and DC-3 airplanes. The CFI certificate contained airplane multi-engine land, airplane single-engine land, and instrument airplane ratings. The pilot was issued a first-class medical certificate on August 24, 2007. This certificate did not contain any limitations.

The pilot's family located one of the pilot's logbooks. The first entry in the logbook was dated August 3, 2005. A total flight time of 8,111.4 hours was forwarded to this logbook. The last entry in the logbook was dated June 13, 2007, with a total flight time of 9,737.2 hours. With the exception of one entry, all of the flight time in the logbook was logged as pilot-in-command time in CL-65 airplanes. The pilot's employer provided a list of his flight times between August 21, 2007 and June 16, 2008. All of this flight time was listed as being a first officer in A-319 airplanes. A combination of these records indicated the pilot had a total flight time of approximately 10,328 hours, of which 3,108 hours were logged in single-engine airplanes. The pilot's logbook did not show any entries indicating that he had ever flown a Lark 95 prior to the accident flight and the passenger stated this was the pilot's first flight in the airplane.


The accident airplane was a 1966 Helton Lark 95, serial number 9506. It was a single-engine, low-wing, two-place airplane with fixed landing gear and a sliding canopy. The fuselage and wings were constructed with a plywood covering and the engine cowling was fiberglass.

Aircraft maintenance records showed the aircraft received an annual inspection on June 14, 2008, at an aircraft total time of 1,205.6 hours.

The airplane was powered by a 90-horsepower, Continental C90 engine, serial number 48550-6-16. The engine maintenance records show the engine received an annual inspection on June 14, 2008, at an engine total time of 1,205.6 hours.

According to the airframe and mechanic with inspection authority (A&P IA) who performed the annual inspection, just prior to the flight the pilot informed him that the aircraft battery was dead. The pilot reported to the mechanic that he needed to go to the fuel pumps, so the mechanic towed the airplane to the pumps. The airplane was topped off with fuel. The pilot then asked the mechanic to hand prop the airplane, which the mechanic did. The mechanic stated they then discovered that the landing light was not functioning. The pilot taxied the airplane to the hangar and the mechanic connected the landing light wire. The mechanic again hand propped the airplane. The mechanic stated he heard the airplane take off and the engine sounded healthy.


The weather conditions reported at the Dayton International Airport (DAY), Dayton, Ohio, 15 miles north of the accident site, at 1056, were: Wind from 290 degrees at 13 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; few clouds at 4,300 feet; broken clouds at 6,000 feet; temperature 20 degrees Celsius; dew point 8 degrees Celsius; altimeter 30.02 inches of mercury.


The main wreckage was located behind a residence southwest of the departure end of runway 26 at I73. The Great Miami River borders the west side of I73 and the wreckage was on the opposite side of the river from the airport.

The wreckage path was on an easterly heading. The airplane contacted a utility pole with the right wingtip, severing a power line. Pieces of aircraft wreckage were scattered between the utility pole and the main wreckage. A 2-foot section of the right wingtip was located on the ground approximately 98 feet from the utility pole. Ground scars were visible beginning approximately 123 feet from the utility pole. The airplane then contacted and severed a light pole prior to coming to rest in an inverted attitude, approximately 235 feet from the initial contact with the utility pole.

The portion of the airplane from the instrument panel forward, the outboard section of both wings, and the canopy were separated from the main wreckage. The propeller separated from the crankshaft and it was located near the light pole that was contacted. Both blade tips were curled rearward and one blade contained torsional twisting.

The post accident inspection of the airplane was conducted by inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration, Flight Standards District Office in Cincinnati, Ohio. The inspectors reported that flight control continuity was established to the extent possible. The fuel pump, fuel selector, and magnetos were found in the off position. The top spark plug on the number four cylinder was found separated from the cylinder. Impact damage was visible on both the engine cowling near the number four cylinder and on the cylinder itself near the top spark plug. The other three top spark plugs were found to be "less than finger tight."


An autopsy was performed on the pilot on June 18, 2008, at the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, Dayton, Ohio. The autopsy report listed the cause of death as "Blunt force injuries of the head and neck."

A Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report was prepared by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The results for tests performed were negative.


According to Teledyne Continental Motors, there would have been a reduction in engine power with the top spark plugs loose, however they did not have data to indicate how much power would be lost.

The A&P IA who signed off the last annual inspection reported that he checked the torque on all of the spark plugs after they were installed during the inspection.

(c) 2009-2018 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.