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N726WM accident description

Oregon map... Oregon list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Jacksonville, OR
42.313458°N, 122.966987°W
Tail number N726WM
Accident date 23 Sep 1995
Aircraft type Macphee Vans RV-6
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On September 23, 1995, about 1120 Pacific daylight time, N726WM, a MacPhee Vans RV-6 homebuilt airplane, impacted terrain during a go-around near Jacksonville, Oregon, and was destroyed. The commercial pilot was seriously injured, and his pilot-rated passenger was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions existed and no flight plan had been filed. The personal flight departed from Medford, Oregon, and was destined for Jacksonville. The flight was conducted under 14 CFR 91.

According to witnesses, the pilot and passenger met at the Medford-Jackson County Airport so that the passenger could receive ground training from the pilot. Later that morning, they departed from the airport in the accident airplane and flew to a private grass/dirt airstrip located about 3 nautical miles to the west. Witnesses reported that the purpose of the flight was to attend a barbecue meeting of the "Fly By Night" homebuilders club. The club is affiliated with the Experimental Aircraft Association.

The owner of the airstrip was an eyewitness to the accident; he recognized the airplane as it approached the airstrip from the south. The witness stated that the airplane appeared to be landing. He reported that the engine sounded "normal" and the approach was "perfect." The airplane was then observed to fly about six feet above the runway beyond its entire length, without landing. The witness then observed the airplane bank to the left toward high terrain until it disappeared.

Another eyewitness at the airstrip stated that the airplane "...came in perfectly as if it was going to land. It never landed then veered left."

A third eyewitness stated that the airplane's flaps were extended as it approached the runway, and remained extended throughout its path over the runway and into the left turn.

The airplane continued to turn left and disappeared behind rapidly rising terrain located to the west of the airstrip. The airplane impacted trees and was found about 45 minutes later.

According to an FAA aviation safety inspector from Hillsboro, Oregon, the witnesses reported the engine was running at "full power" at the time of the accident. No distress calls were heard and no smoke or fire was observed.

The surviving pilot stated that he has no recollection of the events surrounding the accident.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at a location of 42 degrees, 15.50 minutes North and 123 degrees, 04.30 minutes West.


The pilot-in-command (PIC) seated in the left front seat, age 51, is a certificated commercial pilot and flight instructor with ratings for single-engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplanes. The PIC reported that he had logged a total of 1,185 hours of flight time, including 109 hours in the accident airplane.

The pilot-rated passenger, seated in the right front seat, age 48, was a certificated private pilot with a rating for airplane single-engine land. According to FAA records, he had reported a total flight time of 95 hours on December 29, 1993.


The aircraft was registered and owned by the PIC since April 11, 1995. The previous owner had built the aircraft and had it certified by the FAA under the experimental-amateur built category on July 8, 1992.

The single-engine, all metal, two-seat airplane was purchased as a kit from Vans Aircraft Company. It had fixed landing gear and manually-actuated flaps. According to the kit manufacturer, the typical RV-6, if built to the kit manufacturer's specifications, has a stall speed of 54 miles per hour in level flight, and a maximum rate of climb of 1,600 feet per minute. The kit manufacturer also states that wing flap position, carburetor heat application, gross weight, density altitude, and bank angle could affect climb performance and stall speed.

The pilot reported that the maximum gross weight of the accident airplane was 1,600 pounds. The pilot also reported that 36 gallons (216 pounds) of fuel were on board the airplane at the time of departure. The Safety Board estimated the accident weight of the airplane to be about 1,535 pounds.

An examination of the airplane's engine and airframe log books did not reveal any unresolved discrepancies prior to departure the day of the accident. Entries in the log book indicated that the engine and airframe received a condition inspection on May 5, 1995, with no discrepancies noted. The final entry in the engine log book was dated July 25, 1995; it indicated that the engine was serviced with oil.

The engine, a Lycoming O-360-A3A, had accumulated about 1,864 hours of operating hours prior to the accident flight, and it had received a major overhaul about 278 hours prior to the accident flight.


According to the FAA inspector, the private airstrip that the airplane was observed to fly over is oriented north-south. The grass/dirt runway is about 1,100 feet in length, and about 1,600 feet above mean sea level (msl) in elevation at the approach end. The runway is about 60 feet higher on the opposite end. The inspector stated that all landings must be made to the north and all takeoffs to the south due to rapidly-sloping terrain and trees about 1,000 feet to the north of the airstrip.


The meteorological conditions at the Medford-Jackson County Airport, located about 3 nautical miles from the accident site, were recorded about the time of the accident. The record indicated a temperature of 81 degrees F, wind direction of 340 degrees at 4 knots, and an altimeter setting of 29.96 inches of mercury. Safety Board calculations for the density altitude at the accident site yielded a figure of 3,747 feet msl.


The wreckage was examined by an FAA aviation safety inspector at the accident site on September 23 - 24, 1995. An additional engine examination occurred on October 12, 1995, in Medford after the wreckage had been removed. The following observations were reported by the FAA inspector:

Aircraft impacted trees on heading of 015 [degrees] almost in line with extended centerline of runway. Due to sharply rising terrain it appears a right turn was being initiated at time of impact. Pieces of nose spinner and landing light were located about 60 feet before the wreckage. All other debris was in the immediate vicinity of the aircraft. The aircraft landed on the ground inverted after coming almost vertically down through large trees. Due to minimal damage to surrounding trees it appears that the aircraft hit the trees at about a 45 degree angle.... Several large branches directly above the aircraft wreckage were damaged but not broken. Aircraft contacted ground on a 35 degree down slope and slid about five feet.

All primary and secondary flight control surfaces were accounted for at the accident site. No evidence was found to indicate a flight control deficiency. The manually-driven flap actuator mechanism was examined; the flaps were found in the mid-range detent.

An examination of the cockpit revealed that the throttle control was in the full forward position, and the carburetor heat control was partially forward.

Both wooden propeller blades were disintegrated. The hub of the propeller remained attached to the engine. The spinner was missing and the blades were separated in close proximity to the hub.

An examination of the carburetor did not reveal evidence of preimpact malfunction. About 1/3 of the carburetor float bowl contained uncontaminated fuel.

No holes were found in the engine crankcase. The crankshaft could rotate freely through the vacuum pump drive shaft. Crankshaft drive and valve train continuity was verified for all four cylinders during rotation. Uncontaminated oil was found in all four rocker box area.

The left magneto could be freely rotated and the impulse coupling was operational. The left magneto sparked to all four sparkplug leads during rotation.

The right magneto could not be functionally tested. Further examination revealed that the screw that holds the points cam onto the rotor shaft was missing. The points cam remained attached to the rotor shaft. The inspection of the breaker box exhibited evidence of a wear pattern similar to the shape of the head of the screw. The magneto was later disassembled and the screw was found. The magneto was then reassembled and functionally tested without the screw. No anomalies were noted.


The aircraft wreckage, with the exception of the right magneto, was released to Mr. James Steiger, Barrus & Steiger Adjustors, Bellevue, Washington, on October 16, 1996. The right magneto was later released to Mr. Steiger on October 23, 1996. Mr. Steiger is representing the registered owner of the airplane.

NTSB Probable Cause

the pilot-in-command's failure to maintain altitude and/or clearance from surrounding terrain after a low pass. The mountainous terrain was a factor.

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