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N8535B accident description

Vermont map... Vermont list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Westmore, VT
44.756994°N, 72.025931°W
Tail number N8535B
Accident date 06 Sep 1999
Aircraft type Valenza VOLKSPLANE VP-II
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On September 6, 1999, about 0800 Eastern Daylight Time, a homebuilt Volksplane VP-II, N8535B, was destroyed during takeoff from a private airstrip near Westmore, Vermont. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed for the ferry flight to Newport State Airport (EFK), Newport, Vermont. The flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector, the pilot had recently bought the disassembled airplane, which hadn't been flown in the previous 3 years, and reassembled it at his airstrip. He conducted an engine ground test, and subsequently decided to change the original propeller to one with a smaller diameter in order to prevent ground strike damage. The pilot then decided to fly the airplane to Newport State, where additional repairs could be made. It was his first flight in the accident airplane.

A witness stated that the takeoff was conducted under "fairly calm" wind conditions. The airplane began its takeoff roll about 250 feet from the approach end of the grass airstrip. It lifted off after rolling about 1,000 feet, but did not gain enough altitude to negotiate 50-foot trees at the far end of the airstrip. The airplane turned toward the left, toward a low point in the tree line, but then hit two pine trees approximately 8 feet below their tops. It sheared off the treetops, then rolled inverted, and struck the ground. The witness heard the engine operating strongly throughout the takeoff attempt.

On-scene investigation revealed that the takeoff was made from a downwards slope, and that the trees which were hit, were in a gully, and below the airstrip's elevation. Airplane control continuity was confirmed, although the cables were separated, and the cable pulleys were loose. All control surfaces were accounted for at the accident site, and the wooden propeller blades were shattered. A 6-inch by 1-inch by 3-foot board was found bolted to, and centered on the underside of the empennage. It was beneath and parallel to the stabilator. Bailing wire held the pressure carburetor and manifold to the engine mount, and there were no nuts on either the left hand or right hand upper forward wing strut turnover bar. One aileron cable under the fuselage did not have a nut on an attachment bolt, another cable had a nut that was finger tight with no cotter key, neither aileron cable turnbuckle under the fuselage was safety-wired, and the forward pulley for the stabilator was missing.

An autopsy and toxicological testing were performed on the pilot's remains by the Vermont Department of Health, Burlington, Vermont.

The family of the deceased pilot would not provide pilot or maintenance logbooks. On the pilot's latest third class medical certificate application, dated August 22, 1997, he stated that he had 300 hours of flight time.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate altitude/clearance from the trees. A related factor was the pilot's lack of familiarity with the airplane.

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