Saturday, July 27, 2013

Vans RV-6A, N914ES: Accident occurred July 29, 2013 in Knox, Indiana

NTSB Identification: CEN13FA446
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, July 29, 2013 in Knox, IN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/18/2015
Aircraft: CAMPBELL EARL S JR RV-6A, registration: N914ES
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The amateur-built airplane was one of a group of five airplanes traveling to a fly-in. The group planned to land at an interim stop before continuing to the fly-in the following day. The accident airplane was the fourth to land. During the approach, the airplane impacted the ground about where a base-to-final approach turn would have been expected. GPS data showed that the airplane entered a descending left turn that reached a turn rate of about 900 degrees per minute and a descent rate of about 1,300 feet per minute before impact. 

The pilot of the fifth airplane and his passenger commented that the final radio transmissions over the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) from the accident pilot seemed out of the ordinary and that he was fumbling for words. They said that this was not common for the accident pilot and that he was usually very precise in his radio transmissions. The accident pilot’s wife reported that he had complained that he was not feeling well and had chest pain 2 days before the accident flight. Reportedly, he thought the chest pain was from a pulled muscle. The wife reported that the chest pain had resolved and that the pilot was feeling better by the time of the flight but that he had not seen a physician. Autopsy findings revealed that the pilot had left ventricular hypertrophy and coronary artery disease that put him at risk for an acute cardiac event; such an event would leave no evidence visible on autopsy. In addition, the pathologist’s autopsy findings stated, “While no acute ischemic changes are found, the interstitial fibrosis is consistent with prior ischemia, and cardiac hypertrophy is associated with arrhythmias…Thus, it appears possible, given the information that decedent’s radio transmissions on the CTAF prior to the accident indicated he was fumbling for words, that he suffered a cardiac arrhythmia prior to the accident.” Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The incapacitation of the pilot due to a cardiovascular event that prevented him from maintaining control of the airplane during the landing approach.


On July 29, at 1446 central daylight time (all times cdt), an amateur-built Campbell RV-6A, N914ES, was destroyed when it collided with terrain during a landing approach to runway 36 (4,401 feet by 75 feet, asphalt), at the Starke County Airport (OXI), Knox, Indiana. The private pilot was fatally injured. The aircraft was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the vicinity of the accident site and no flight plan had been filed. The personal flight originated from Richard Downing Airport (I40), Coshocton, Ohio at 1246. The intended destination was OXI.

The airplane was in a group of four other airplanes that originally departed the Fredericksburg, Virginia, area. According to the pilots of the other airplanes in the group, the original intention was to land at OXI and stay overnight near Knox, Indiana, and then continue the trip the following day to the annual Experimental Aircraft Association Airventure fly-in. The pilots reported that the accident airplane was the fourth airplane in the group and three other airplanes had already landed at OXI. The three pilots that had already landed reported seeing the airplane fly over the airport on a left crosswind portion of the landing pattern. They reported that their attention was diverted and they did not watch the remainder of the landing approach. When the fifth airplane of the group landed the first three pilots to land then realized that the accident airplane had not landed. The pilot and passenger of the fifth airplane in the group commented that they saw the accident airplane enter the traffic pattern at OXI, and heard his radio transmissions on the common traffic advisory (CTAF) frequency. They commented that the transmission from the accident pilot seemed out of the ordinary and that he was fumbling for words. They said that this was not common for the accident pilot and that he was usually very precise in his radio transmissions. The pilot and passenger of the fifth airplane did not see the accident happen and only learned of it after they themselves had landed.

Flight track data was downloaded from a handheld GPS recovered from the accident airplane. The track data for the day of the accident showed that the airplane departed from the Shannon Airport (KEZF), Fredericksburg, Virginia, at 0955, and traveled to I40. The airplane remained on the ground at I40 for about 20 minutes. The other pilots in the group reported that all five airplanes were fueled at I40, including the accident airplane. The data showed that the airplane then departed I40 at 1246 and continued to OXI. The data showed the airplane traveled in a westerly direction when it passed over the airport at about 1,300 feet mean sea level (msl). The airplane then made a left turn to the south and began descending. When the airplane was about 0.36 nautical miles southwest of the approach end of runway 36, it began a descending left turn back toward the runway. The left turn continued until the end of the data. The last recorded position was 0.3 nautical miles and 193 degrees from the approach end of runway 36. The altitude recorded at the last data point was 806 feet msl. The last recorded GPS location coincided with the location where the wreckage was found.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single-engine land airplane. He was issued a third-class airman medical certificate, with a restriction for corrective lenses, on November 21, 2012.


The accident airplane was an amateur-built RV-6A airplane that was constructed from a kit. It was a low-wing monoplane of predominately aluminum construction. It was a two-place, low wing, single engine airplane, with a tricycle landing gear configuration. The airplane was issued an FAA experimental airworthiness certificate on August 4, 1994. The airplane was powered by a 150-horsepower Lycoming O-320-E2G four-cylinder, reciprocating engine, serial number L-47414-27A. The engine was manufactured in July 1977.


Weather conditions recorded by the OXI Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS), at 1455 were: wind from 30 degrees at 3 knots, visibility 10 miles, scattered clouds at 4,100 feet above ground level (agl), broken clouds at 4,800 feet agl, temperature 22 degrees Celsius, dew point 13 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 30.14 inches of mercury.


The airplane impacted a corn field about 0.30 nautical miles south-southwest of the approach end of runway 36 at OXI. The airplane was upright and was facing about 120 degrees. The path through the corn and the crushing of the forward fuselage and wing indicated that the airplane impacted the ground in a near wings level attitude with the nose pitched downward about 60 degrees. The forward fuselage was crushed rearward and upward, and the engine and firewall were partially separated from the remainder of the fuselage. The wing leading edges were crushed rearward and upward with flattening of the leading edge wings skins at an angle coinciding with an approximate 60 degree nose down attitude. The wings, aft fuselage, and tail surfaces remained attached to the fuselage. The aft fuselage and tail surfaces exhibited little damage.

Examination of the airplane’s flight controls revealed elevator and rudder continuity from the cockpit controls to the respective control surfaces. Right aileron continuity was confirmed from the right control stick to the aileron. Left aileron control continuity was confirmed from the left control stick to the aileron. A broken rod end was found on the push rod that connected the right and left control sticks. The break in the rod end was consistent with damage incurred during the impact. The linkages from the flap torque tube to the flaps were found broken on both right and left flaps. The breaks were consistent with damage incurred during the impact.

The airplane’s engine rotated freely by hand. Suction and compression were confirmed on all cylinders. Valve train continuity was confirmed and valve action was noted at the number two cylinder. The left magneto was broken loose from its mount. It was equipped with an impulse coupling, and produced spark on all four ignition leads when rotated by hand. The right magneto remained attached to the engine. The right magneto was not equipped with an impulse coupling. After removal from the engine, the magneto was rotated using an electric drill and spark was noted on all four ignition leads. The carburetor was fragmented and only the upper portion remained attached to the engine’s induction system.

Fred Breese

Keith Aultman

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - An airplane that crashed into a home in Columbus, Indiana on Thursday was built from a kit, but experts said the aircraft had a good safety record. 

 Experimental aircraft kits, for cost savings alone, may be the wave of the flying future.

Flight Instructor and mechanic Fred Breese said the high cost of flying has impacted the amount of plane owners, "There are a lot of empty hangers right now because people have sold their airplanes."

"When it comes to fuel, it's not going to go down," said Breese. Aviation fuel is hovering near $7 a gallon. A typical plane flying in and out of Bowman Field may burn anywhere from eight to 14 gallons per hour and Breese said bigger planes can burn 18 gallons per hour.

"You look at 18 times $7 and that's a lot of money," he said.

The issue has created a popular trend on the runways - experimental planes like the RV-12, built by Breese and Keith Aultman, the pilot who owns the plane. "I know we're seeing a lot more experimental aircraft," said Aultman.

The plane comes in a kit and runs on the same type of gas you put in your car. Breese said the savings in fuel cost makes "a big difference."

Besides the gas savings, the price tag for the plane is $62,000, which is a deal compared to a new Cirrus, ranging from $300,000 to $500,000.

"This has become the thing," Breese said pointing to the experimental aircraft, "because they are super efficient," he said, "this airplane will actually cruise faster than that 172 over there."

It burns less fuel too, only five gallons of auto fuel per hour.

Fuel costs aside, these experienced flyers say just because the kits are experimental does not mean they lack anything when it comes to safety.  They say their planes are sophisticated, equipped with auto pilot. Aultman said, "It is just as safe as any other factory built aircraft."

So, don't be surprised if you see more experimental aircraft taking off at an airport near you. "It's very inexpensive," Aultman said, "And it's a love."

More manufacturers are also selling the light sport planes. In 2012, a group of aviation students at Jennings County High School in southern Indiana built and flew their own RV-12.

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