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N434SW accident description

Oregon map... Oregon list
Crash location 45.970556°N, 118.721667°W
Nearest city Vansycle, OR
45.947911°N, 118.723043°W
1.6 miles away
Tail number N434SW
Accident date 15 Dec 2003
Aircraft type Erickson (Glasair) SHA Glasair TD
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On December 15, 2003, approximately 1416 Pacific standard time an Erickson SHA Glasair TD homebuilt aircraft, N434SW, registered to/operated by and being flown by an airline transport rated pilot was destroyed during collision with a pole/wires and subsequent ground impact during an unknown phase of operation approximately one nautical mile north of Vansycle, Oregon. The pilot and passenger both sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions existed and no flight plan had been filed. The flight, which was personal, originated from Yakima, Washington, approximately 1345, and its destination was reported to be Walla Walla, Washington (refer to Chart I).

An ear witness reported hearing an explosive sound and noted smoke in the direction of the sound. Upon investigating the location he found the aircraft heavily fragmented at the ground impact site.

The aircraft was a single engine, homebuilt, composite, two-place plane with side-by-side seating (refer to Attachment G-I). Records maintained by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) showed the pilot/owner was issued a certificate of registration for the aircraft on July 31, 2000.

The pilot had been issued an airline transport certificate with a multi-engine land rating on May 31, 1985, including commercial privileges in aircraft single-engine land. Additionally, he held type ratings in the Boeing 737, Beech 1900 and Swearingen SA-227 aircraft. A single flight log in the pilot's name was reviewed and the total flight time between the first flight logged (10/06/1966) and the last flight logged (12/11/2003) was approximately 11,212 hours. According to records maintained by the FAA he reported a total of 16,150 hours of flight experience as of the medical examination conducted on April 23, 2003, at which time he was issued a third class medical. The medical contained a limitation that the pilot must wear corrective lenses. It was not known whether he was in compliance with this requirement at the time of the accident. Toxicological evaluation of samples from the pilot was reported as negative (refer to attached report). Post mortem examination of the pilot was conducted by R. Stefancik, M.D., at Munselle Rhodes Funeral Home, Milton-Freewater, Oregon, on December 17, 2003.

An inspector assigned to the FAA's Hillsboro Flight Standards District Office conducted the on site examination. The accident site was located within an area of wind turbines and an anemometer pole measuring 50 meters in height was observed to have the top portion separated and lying on the ground near wing fragments, with the aircraft approximately 1,000 feet further east-northeast and the occupants thrown clear (refer to Chart II and photographs 1 through 6). A post crash fire consumed most of the aircraft. There were no known eyewitnesses to the accident.

The power company managing the wind turbine farm reported that Met tower number 132 stopped reporting wind information from its top anemometer approximately 1416 (refer to Attachment PC-I). The latitude and longitude of the tower was reported as 45 degrees 58.237 minutes North and 118 degrees 43.529 minutes West respectively. The FAA inspector reported the latitude and longitude of the ground impact site as 45 degrees 58.228 minutes North and 118 degrees 43.296 minutes West respectively (refer to Chart III).

Aircraft logs and records as well as the pilot's logbook and associated paperwork were returned to the aircraft's co-owner via two-day Federal Express on June 8, 2004.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate clearance with the anemometer pole/wires during low altitude flight. Contributing factors were the pole and the pilot's low altitude flight.

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