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N57EZ accident description

Tennessee map... Tennessee list
Crash location 35.583333°N, 89.589722°W
Nearest city Covington, TN
35.564247°N, 89.646467°W
3.5 miles away
Tail number N57EZ
Accident date 02 Jul 2002
Aircraft type Mckean Varieze
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On July 2, 2002, about 1330 eastern daylight time, a McKean Varieze amateur built airplane, N57EZ, registered to and operated by a private individual, as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, made a forced landing near Covington, Tennessee. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The airplane incurred substantial damage, and the commercial-rated pilot received no injuries. The flight originated from Covington Municipal Airport, Covington, Tennessee, the same day, about 1320.

According to the pilot, he had just purchased the airplane from a friend, and had journeyed to Covington, Tennessee, to get the airplane and fly it back to his home in Pensacola, Florida. He said he only had about 0.2 flight hours of total experience in the airplane, and at the time of the accident flight he was evaluating the airplane following a condition inspection. He said that the airplane had not been operated in a while, and he said he had been told to get some flight hours in the airplane prior to attempting to fly it home. He said that during the first flight, the engine had surged, so he returned to the airport, and executed an uneventful landing. He further stated that after landing, he operated the airplane on the ground, trying to determine the cause of the engine surges, and was unable to duplicate the problems, so he decided to again fly the airplane to see if the surges would reoccur, or if he was experiencing "first flight paranoia."

He stated that during the second flight the taxi, takeoff and initial climb were uneventful, and when the airplane reached 2,700 feet, as he was about to reach back and to secure the magnetos and attempt to diagnose the reason for the earlier engine surges, he noted that he had left the electronic ignition off from the second startup on the ground, so he turned the switch back on. He said he then decided to wait until he reached 4,000 feet, and upon reaching 3,700 feet, and while in a left turn, "crossing the numbers for runway 01, the engine began to surge again. He said the engine rpms then dropped to 1,600, and that any attempts to control engine power were henceforth unsuccessful. He said he extended the downwind in order to dissipate altitude, but as he approached the airport to affect an forced landing he had descended below some wires which stretched across his flight path to the airport, so he changed his selected landing site to a road short of the runway. During the landing the pilot said the winglet caught some corn stalks at the side of the road and spun the airplane around. The airplane came to rest inverted in a corn field, incurring a severed right wing, a broken right main landing gear, a bent right canard and a damaged canopy.

An FAA inspector stated that he and an FAA designated Airworthiness representative examined the accident airplane, and no evidence of mechanical failure or malfunctions were found with any of the airplane systems. The inspector also stated that the designated airworthiness representative told him that he had been present when the pilot was getting ready to take off, and that the fuel selector had been left on the 3-gallon capacity header tank position, and that after the accident, while assisting in extricating the pilot from the overturned airplane, the designated representative again noted that the fuel selector was still set to the header tank position.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's improper planned approach following loss of engine power due to fuel starvation resulting in damage to the airplane during an off-airport landing. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's lack of familiarity with the accident airplane.

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