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N959M accident description

Oregon map... Oregon list
Crash location 44.578611°N, 124.062778°W
Nearest city Newport, OR
44.636784°N, 124.053450°W
4.0 miles away
Tail number N959M
Accident date 23 Dec 2017
Aircraft type Kelley DERRICK/LEZA Aircam
Additional details: None
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NTSB Factual Report

On December 23, 2017, about 1415 Pacific standard time, an experimental amateur-built Aircam, N959M, was substantially damaged when it impacted trees and terrain during an approach to landing at Newport Municipal Airport (ONP), Newport, Oregon. The ATP rated pilot/owner and his pilot-rated passenger received minor injuries. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed.

The pilot, who lived in Florida, had recently purchased the multi-engine, float-equipped, amphibious airplane with a partner, and planned to fly it from Arlington, Washington to Phoenix, Arizona. Four days before the accident, he flew one leg in the airplane, and another leg the following day. The third day's flight was cancelled due to weather, and the accident occurred on the second leg of the fourth day. The first leg that day, from Olympia, Washington to Astoria, Oregon, was uneventful. The flight from Astoria to ONP was also uneventful, until the accident.

According to the pilot, he planned to land on ONP runway 2. He recalled that the AWOS-broadcast winds were from 090° at 9 knots. The aircraft was stabilized on approach, with a speed of about 76 mph, and zero flaps. When the airplane was about 400 ft above the ground, the pilot felt a slight updraft, and responded with an airplane-nose-down input to the flight controls. Very shortly thereafter, the pilot felt a significant, uncommanded "nose dip," and a rapid and significant left bank. The pilot applied control inputs in an attempt to correct, but the aircraft had lost about 200 feet, had changed its track nearly 90° to the left, and appeared to be headed for a building. The pilot focused on avoiding both the building and an aerodynamic stall, but was unable to prevent the aircraft from striking trees, which terminated the flight. The pilot estimated that from the time of the upset to the accident was only 5 to 10 seconds.

The aircraft came to rest upright. The pilot recalled that at least one of the engines continued to operate after impact, and in response he shut that engine down, and secured the cockpit as best he could. There was no fire, and both the pilot and passenger exited their respective cockpits on their own. The wreckage was located in a wooded area, about 550 ft short of the displaced threshold for runway 2, and offset about 650 ft to the northwest of the extended runway centerline. The final resting place was approximately 40 ft below the threshold elevation. The forward cockpit was moderately disrupted, but the aft cockpit was essentially intact. Both floats were significantly damaged and displaced, as were both wings. Both engines, and their respective propellers, were intact.

The pilot was employed as a pilot for a US airline. He obtained his multi-engine sea rating in June 2017, accumulating about 5 hours in the accident airplane make and model. That training and flight check was his first and only experience in an Aircam, until about 2 weeks prior to the accident, when he flew the accident airplane for about 1.5 hours with its previous owner.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) information indicated that the kit airplane was manufactured in 2007, and was equipped with two Rotax 912-ULS series engines. According to the pilot, the most recent annual condition inspection was completed in August 2017.

The 1415 ONP automated weather observation included winds from 080° at 12 knots, visibility 10 miles, a broken cloud layer at 1,800 ft, a solid overcast at 2,300 ft, temperature 7° C, dew point 5° C, and an altimeter setting of 30.33 inches of mercury.

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