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N85ES accident description

Tennessee map... Tennessee list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Bell Buckle, TN
35.591738°N, 86.354160°W
Tail number N85ES
Accident date 16 Oct 1999
Aircraft type Eddie A. Smith KR-2
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On October 16, 1999, about 1232 central daylight time, a homebuilt KR-2, N85ES, registered to a private individual, experienced an in-flight loss of control and uncontrolled collision with terrain near Bell Buckle, Tennessee. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. The airplane was destroyed and the commercial-rated pilot and pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. The flight originated about 1200 from the Murfreesboro Municipal Airport, Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

According to FAA personnel, a fuel receipt dated the day of the accident about 1151, indicates 5 gallons of 100 low lead aviation fuel were purchased at the Murfreesboro Municipal Airport, Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The flight departed then flew to the Bomar Field-Shelbyville Municipal Airport where the airplane was observed to land on runway 18 and takeoff immediately. While flying northbound, northeast of the airport, the closest witness heard the engine, 'sputtering and spitting', followed by seeing the airplane enter a sharp turn to the west. The engine was heard to quit or go silent and the airplane was observed to enter a nose low spiral. The airplane was observed to descend vertical and was lost behind obstructions. Witnesses who responded to the sight before rescue personnel arrived reported no evidence of a large quantity of fuel; however, one of the EMT personnel reported that the shoes of the passenger were soaked with fuel. The doctor at the hospital where the pilot and passenger were initially examined reported there was no indication of fuel on the clothes or on their bodies.

A witness located outside approximately 200-300 yards from where the airplane crashed, reported that he heard the engine "missing" which made him look up. He observed the airplane in a "nose down" attitude going, "around and around in circles." He heard a loud "bang", had his son call 911, then ran to the accident site. He later reported that he was concerned about a fire starting and checked for fuel but he did not see any fuel on the ground. He also stated that he did not observe any fuel leakage from the damaged fuel tank when the airplane was loaded during recovery and also he did not smell fuel during that time.


According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot was issued a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land rating on May 7, 1985. He is not a FAA certificated airframe or powerplant mechanic. He was issued a third-class medical certificate on November 12, 1996, which listed his weight as 194 pounds. Based on his age at the time of the examination date, the medical certificate expired November 30, 1998. No other medical certificate was issued. Review of the pilot's first pilot logbook that begins on July 22, 1970, and ends on July 3, unknown year, indicates that he logged a total of 213.6 hours total time. Review of his second logbook that begins with an entry dated September 14, 1994, and ends with an entry dated September 26, 1999, indicates he logged a total of 251.9 hours, of which 90.3 hours were logged as pilot-in-command in the accident airplane. The first flight logged in the accident airplane was recorded as taking place on July 18, 1999.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot-rated passenger was issued a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating on July 18, 1987. He was issued a third-class medical certificate on May 13, 1999, with the restriction, must wear corrective lenses.


According to FAA records, the special airworthiness certificate was issued on May 11, 1995, and the aircraft registration application in the accident pilot's name was dated May 28, 1999. The airplane was registered in the accident pilot's name on October 1, 1999.

Review of the aircraft logbook revealed an entry dated August 23, 1996, which was signed off as being a condition inspection. There were no further entries in the logbook pertaining to the accomplishment of condition inspection (s). Review of the engine logbook revealed no entries pertaining to conditions inspection (s).

According to the Experimental Operating Limitations issued on August 11, 1999, indicates in part that, "No person may operate this aircraft unless within the preceding 12 calendar months it has had a condition inspection performed in accordance with Appendix D of FAR Part 43. Only FAA-certificated and rated airframe and powerplant mechanics and appropriately rated repair stations may perform condition inspections." The accomplishment of condition inspections is required to be entered into the aircraft maintenance records. The limitations also indicate that, "Any major change to this aircraft, as defined by FAR 21.93, invalidates the special airworthiness certificate issued for this aircraft." Review of 14 CFR Part 21.93 revealed that, "A 'minor change' is one that has no appreciable effect on weight, balance, structural strength, reliability, operational characteristics, or other characteristics affecting the airworthiness of the product. All other changes are 'major changes'...."

According to FAA personnel, a friend of the accident pilot reported that he had been working on the landing gear for 2 weeks before the accident which involved replacing the retractable landing gear with a fixed type landing gear. The friend stated that he believed that the work was completed by the pilot the night before the accident. The friend also reported that the accident pilot modified the pilot's seat to accommodate him, and he also modified the elevator trim tab to be fixed, nonadjustable. The weight and balance paperwork that was located did not reflect the changes to the landing gear, or the modification to the pilot's seat.

Review of the aircraft logbook revealed no entry which reflects removal of the retractable landing gear and installation of the fixed landing gear.


A weather observation taken at the Bomar Field-Shelbyville Municipal Airport about 20 minutes after the accident indicated clear sky conditions below 12,000 feet, the visibility was 10 statute miles, the temperature and dew point were 84 and 51 degrees, respectively, the wind was from 350 degrees at 3 knots, and the altimeter setting was 30.00 inHg. The accident site was located approximately 3 nautical miles and 098 degrees from the Bomar Field-Shelbyville Municipal airport.


There were no known recorded communications with any FAA Air Traffic Control Facility.


The accident site was located at the edge of a wooded area approximately at 35 degrees 33 minutes North Latitude and 086 degrees 23 minutes West Longitude. That location when plotted indicates that the accident site was located approximately 3 nautical miles east-southeast of the Bomar Field-Shelbyville Municipal Airport. Examination of the accident site by FAA personnel revealed that the airplane came to rest upright on a magnetic heading of 240 degrees. Debris from the airplane was located within about 150 feet of the main wreckage and examination of the ground revealed evidence that the nose and left wing impacted the ground first with no forward movement following ground impact. One of the propeller blades was not damaged and the other propeller blade was fractured near the hub. The fuel tank was ruptured at several locations along the seams but no evidence of hydraulic action was noted. No fuel was noted inside pockets of the ruptured fuel tank and there was no evidence of fuel leakage on the ground beneath the ruptured fuel tank. A slight fuel aroma was noted from the ruptured tank. Examination of the gascolator revealed no evidence of fuel. Examination of the flight controls revealed no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction. Examination of the emergency locator transmitter revealed that the shipping screw was in place. No seatbelt was observed for the right seat occupant. Copies of the FAA inspector statements are attachments to this report.


Postmortem examinations of the pilot and passenger were performed by Charles W. Harlan, M.D., of Forensic Pathology Associates, P.C., a consulting forensic pathologist for Bedford County, Tennessee. The cause of death for both was listed as multiple injuries as a result of the airplane accident.

Toxicological analysis of specimens of the pilot and pilot-rated passenger were performed by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Forensic Services Crime Laboratory. The results for both were negative for ethanol and tested drugs. Analysis for alcohol was also performed on specimens of the pilot and pilot-rated passenger by Quest Diagnostics, Incorporated; the results of both was also negative.

Personnel from the FAA requested from the Medical Examiner's office, to submit specimens of both the pilot and passenger in the provided toxicology boxes, to the FAA Accident and Research Laboratory for toxicological testing. The medical examiner did not submit the specimens as requested.


Weight calculations were performed using the empty weight of the airplane taken off of the data plate (628 pounds), the weight of the oil (7.5 pounds), the weight of the pilot at his last medical (194 pounds), and the weight of the pilot-rated passenger per the autopsy report (172 pounds). The calculations also include the estimated weight change (-10 pounds) resulting from the removal of the retractable main landing gear and installation of the fixed main landing gear. This information was provided by a person who built a KR-2 type airplane and also test flew the accident airplane on the first flight following purchase by the accident pilot. The weight calculations indicate that the airplane was approximately 3 pounds over designed gross weight (989 pounds), at the time of the accident. The calculations do not include the fuel quantity at the time of takeoff. Center of gravity calculations were not performed due to the airplane being above the maximum gross weight.

NTSB Probable Cause

The poor in-flight planning decision by the pilot-in-command for continuing the flight with inadequate fuel supply and the inadvertent stall by the pilot-in-command following total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion. Findings in the accident were the pilot's intentional operation of the airplane with a passenger without providing a restraint system to that person, and operation of the airplane in an over gross weight condition.

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