Friday, June 13, 2014

2/3 P-51B/C Mustang, N51BM: Fatal accident occurred June 13, 2014 in Marion, South Carolina

NTSB Identification: ERA14FA289
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, June 13, 2014 in Marion, SC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/12/2016
Aircraft: MEYER CLAIR O 2/3 P 51B/C MUSTANG, registration: N51BM
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 private pilot's wife reported that he planned to conduct taxi tests in the airplane on the day of the accident but that he did not intend to fly it. According to her recount of the accident, she observed the pilot taxi the airplane to the beginning of the runway where it idled for several minutes while the pilot waited for another airplane to depart. The pilot then initiated a takeoff roll and the airplane lifted off the ground about midfield with the landing gear retracted. As the airplane climbed, it "entered a sharp left turn," which was followed by a nose down dive. Another witness reported that he observed the pilot complete an engine run-up and then take off and enter a "shallow" climb. About 1,000 ft above the ground, the airplane entered a nose-down descent, and then impacted a corn field about 1 nautical mile from the airport.

Postaccident examination of the airframe did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. The engine did not display any evidence of lubrication distress or internal scoring indicative of an engine seizure or other catastrophic failure. Additionally, the witnesses reported no interruptions in engine power throughout the flight. Although these findings suggest that the airplane was under power, the investigation was unable to determine how much power the engine was producing at the time of the accident.

The pilot was issued a Federal Aviation Administration third-class medical certificate about 4 months before the accident. On his application for the certificate, he reported no significant medical conditions, no prescription medications, and no visits to other healthcare providers. Records obtained from his personal physician indicated that he had a history of diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, valvular disease, and cardiac arrhythmias. In addition, his medical history included hospital admissions for coronary artery bypass surgery, gallbladder removal, and quarterly visits for several years before the accident. The pilot had also been prescribed several prescription medications to control these conditions; only one of which, a sleep aid, was identified during postaccident toxicological testing. These findings indicate that the pilot was not compliant with his treatment regimen around the time of the accident.

The pilot's cardiovascular conditions and his failure to use the prescribed medications to treat them put him at high risk for a number of incapacitating symptoms that would not have been evident during the autopsy, including severe chest pain and shortness of breath from angina or a heart attack, sudden inability to use the arm and leg on one side (stroke), and sudden loss of consciousness from a hemorrhagic stroke or arrhythmia. It is likely that the pilot was incapacitated at the time of the accident due to his cardiovascular disease, which resulted in his loss of airplane control.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The airplane's impact with terrain shortly after takeoff due to a physiological incapacitation of the pilot.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On June 13, 2014, about 1303 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built 2/3 P-51B/C Mustang, N51BM, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain shortly after takeoff from Marion County Airport (MAO), Marion, South Carolina. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local and personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The pilot's wife reported that the pilot had planned to perform taxi tests in the airplane on the day of the accident, but that he did not intend to fly it. During the pilot's preflight inspection, she observed the pilot sump the fuel tank and activate the fuel pump. After starting the engine, the pilot taxied the airplane to the end of runway 22, and waited about "5 to 6 minutes" for another airplane to depart. The pilot then accelerated down the runway, became airborne about "midfield," and retracted the landing gear. As the airplane climbed, it made a "sharp left turn" and subsequently entered a "nose dive" before disappearing behind trees. Shortly after, she heard the sound of impact. She reported that the engine sound was smooth and continuous through the takeoff and climb.

Another witness observed the pilot complete an engine run up check before he departed and began a "shallow" climb to the south. The witness' view of the airplane was momentarily obstructed, but as the airplane came back into view, he observed it enter a nose-low attitude from about 1,000 feet above ground level, and "dive straight into the ground." The witness also reported that he did not observe any interruptions in power, and stated that it appeared the engine was running normally.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 64, held a private pilot certificate that was issued on July 26, 1986, with a rating for airplane single-engine land. The pilot's logbooks were not recovered. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate was issued on February 2, 2014, at which time he reported 3,933 total flight hours and 22 hours accumulated in the previous 6 months. Additionally, he reported no medical conditions, hospitalizations, medications, or non-aviation related healthcare visits since his previous medical certificate issuance. His medical certificate was issued with the limitation, "must have available glasses for near vision."

According to the pilot's wife, he had accumulated approximately 350 total flight hours in the airplane make and model at the time of the accident.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was powered by a Ranger 6-440C-5 Series inverted, in-line, 200 horsepower, air-cooled engine, equipped with a 4-blade wooden propeller. According to FAA records, the airplane's airworthiness certificate was issued in September 1980. The airplane was registered to the accident pilot in May 2002.

The airplane logbooks were not recovered; however, a recent maintenance history was constructed from records submitted by a mechanic who completed several owner-assisted inspections with the pilot. The records indicated that the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on May 15, 2013 at 786.4 hours total time in service. A recently-overhauled engine was installed and inspected on July 12, 2012 following a gear-up landing.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The 1315 recorded weather observation at MAO, included wind from 270 degrees at 8 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, broken clouds at 4700 ft. and 5000 ft., temperature 30 degrees C, dew point 17 degrees C; barometric altimeter 29.87 inches of mercury.

Given the atmospheric conditions present, the density altitude at the time of the accident was calculated as approximately 2,150 feet.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane came to rest in a cornfield about one mile southeast of MAO, and all major structural and flight control components were accounted for at the accident site. An initial impact point (IIP) was identified by several broken corn stalks. The empennage was connected to a portion of the fuselage, which was oriented on a 258-degree magnetic heading. Both wings exhibited aft crush damage along their leading edges, and the wing roots were covered in a black residue that resembled oil. All four propeller blades were separated from the propeller hub; two of the blades came to rest in the debris path, and the other blades were found in the cornfield, one about 80 feet and the other about 6 feet from the main wreckage.

Both ailerons were impact-separated at a bell crank that connected the aileron assemblies to the control stick. The wing flap control tubes were traced from the cockpit to the wing flaps, which could be manipulated by hand. A clevis rod that connected the control tubes to the flap handle separated from the turnbuckle body, which exhibited evidence of shear damage to its internal threads. An examination by the NTSB materials laboratory confirmed that the damage was consistent with mechanical overloading of the rod end from the turnbuckle body. A safety wire that connected the rod end to the turnbuckle also displayed damage consistent with overload. Elevator, rudder, and aileron flight control continuity was traced from the cockpit to each of the respective control surfaces.

The aluminum fuel tanks were breached and an odor of fuel was detected at the accident site. Both fuel tank strainer screens were free of contaminants. Fuel line continuity was traced from the wing tanks through the fuel selector to the fuel line at the engine, which exhibited evidence of overload separation. The fuel selector rotated freely between the right and left tank positions and was not obstructed. The carburetor was not recovered from the accident site.

Engine

Due to impact damage to the crankshaft, the engine crankshaft could not be rotated and internal drive continuity could not be established. The right magneto case displayed impact damage, but the primary leads remained secured to the unit and were continuous to the right side spark plugs. The left magneto was also impact-damaged and several primary leads were severed. The throttle linkage was intact and operable through its full range from the throttle knob to the engine. A portion of the oil hose remained connected to the oil pump and the oil reservoir, which had been breached. A sample taken of the oil within the crankcase appeared clean and free of contaminants. Examination of the crankcase revealed an evenly-distributed presence of oil and no damage other than the bend to the shaft. While a large breach in the oil reservoir was present the internal engine components did not display any indications of lubrication distress, overheating, or oil starvation. Additionally, there was no evidence of internal scoring within the crankcase consistent with a catastrophic engine failure. The carburetor was not recovered from the accident site.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Medical University of South Carolina, Department of Pathology and Lab Medicine, Charleston, South Carolina. The autopsy report listed the pilot's cause of death as "multiple blunt force injuries."

Forensic toxicology testing was performed on specimens of the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Testing detected the presence of Zolpidem, a short-acting prescription sleep aid marketed under the trade name Ambien, in the pilot's liver and urine. The test was negative for ethanol.

Medical records obtained from the pilot's primary care physician (PCP) indicated a history of non-insulin-dependent diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and significant heart disease. His heart conditions included arrhythmias, coronary artery disease, and valvular disease. In 1998, the pilot was admitted to the hospital for angina after failing an exercise stress test. A cardiac catheterization revealed stenosis of the proximal left anterior descending coronary artery that involved the large diagonal. In addition, he had gallbladder surgery in 2003. Records also indicated that the pilot underwent quarterly visits to his PCP for many years. Neither these visits nor the pilot's diabetes or heart conditions were ever reported by the pilot on his FAA medical certificate applications.

The pilot's most recent visit to his PCP was on February 27, 2014, three weeks after his last FAA medical certificate examination. At this time his medication list included nitroglycerin sublingual tablets, used to treat symptoms of angina; Mag-oxide, a form of magnesium used to treat low magnesium levels; metformin, used to treat Type II diabetes; Atacand, a blood pressure medication also used for the treatment of heart failure; Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering agent; aspirin, and Ambien.

A laboratory test was completed during the pilot's most recent examination, which demonstrated a fasting blood sugar of 196 mg/dl (normal is 65-110 mg/dl) and Hemoglobin A1C of 9.4%. Hemoglobin A1C is a measure of the average blood glucose level over the preceding several weeks. Normal Hemoglobin A1C is below 5.6%, diabetes is diagnosed with a Hemoglobin A1C above 6.4%, and good control of diabetes is considered a result less than 7%. No stress tests or other evaluation of the status of his coronary artery disease were present in records from the three years prior to the accident.


NTSB Identification: ERA14FA289
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, June 13, 2014 in Marion, SC
Aircraft: MEYER CLAIR O 2/3 P 51B/C MUSTANG, registration: N51BM
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 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.

On June 13, 2014, about 1303 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built 2/3 P-51 B/C Mustang airplane, N51BM, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain shortly after takeoff from Marion County Airport (MAO), Marion, South Carolina. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the pilot's wife, on the day of the accident the pilot told her that he had planned only to taxi the airplane to "circulate the oil." She observed the pilot perform a preflight inspection, start the engine, then taxi to the runway, where he remained at idle for "5 to 6 minutes" prior to taking off. The airplane lifted off the runway about "midfield," and the pilot retracted the landing gear. The wife described the airplane's initial climb as "normal". After reaching the end of the runway, the airplane made a "sharp left turn", "sank" and entered a "nose dive." The airplane disappeared from view behind trees, and she subsequently heard the sound of impact. She reported that she did not hear any engine roughness or interruption of power during the takeoff.

Another witness observed the airplane depart and begin a "shallow" climb to the south. The witness' view of the airplane was momentarily obstructed, but as the airplane came back into view, he observed it in a nose-low attitude as it descended towards the ground. The witness also reported no engine roughness or interruption of power.

The airplane came to rest in a cornfield about 0.5 nm south of MAO. The debris path was oriented 078 degrees magnetic, and the main wreckage was oriented on a heading of 258 degrees magnetic. The empennage and most of the fuselage remained intact and the engine cowling had separated. The wings were intact with the leading edges resting against the cockpit. Both wings also exhibited significant aft crush damage along their leading edges. All four propeller blades were separated from the propeller hub, and three of the blades exhibited chordwise scratching. The fourth propeller blade was separated into fragments that were scattered between the initial impact point and main wreckage.

 

The National Transportation Safety Board issued a preliminary investigation report this week on a plane crash last month in Marion that killed John Milton Sherbert.

Sherbert, 64, was flying a experimental amateur-built 2/3 P-51 B/C Mustang airplane on June 13 when it crashed in a cornfield off of Bluff Road shortly after it took off from Marion County Airport.

The NTSB report says on the day of the accident, Sherbert told his wife that he had planned only to taxi the airplane to circulate the oil.

It adds she observed Sherbert perform a preflight inspection, start the engine, then taxi to the runway, where he remained at idle for "5 to 6 minutes" prior to taking off.

The airplane lifted off the runway about "midfield," and the pilot retracted the landing gear, according to the report.

It says Sherbert's wife described the airplane's initial climb as "normal" and after reaching the end of the runway, the airplane made a "sharp left turn", "sank" and entered a "nose dive."

It says the airplane disappeared from view behind trees, and she subsequently heard the sound of impact.

NTSB investigators add Sherbert's wife reported that she did not hear any engine roughness or interruption of power during the takeoff.

NTSB says the preliminary report is subject to change and may contain errors. It adds any errors will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

Source:   http://www.carolinalive.com


FAA West Columbia FSDO-13


MARION, S.C. — Investigators with the National Transportation and Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration on Saturday recovered the wreckage from a Friday afternoon plane crash in Marion County that killed Florence pilot John Sherbert.

NTSB Air Safety Investigator Stephen Stein held a briefing at the Marion County Airport on the initial findings regarding the Midget Mustang or two-third scale model P-51 airplane.

“He was departing the airfield when he crashed,” he said. “The wreckage was actually found a half-mile south of the airport.”

Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson said Sherbert was killed on impact when his single-engine, single-occupant plane made impact in a nearby cornfield. Richardson said the body was sent Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston for an autopsy.

Stein said the aircraft will remain at the airport where an airframe and engine examination will be conducted.

The fact-gathering process will also review the pilot’s training proficiency, flight history, certification records along with environmental factors.

A preliminary report could be expected within five to 10 days, he said.

“Once that whole fact-gathering phase of our investigation is complete, which is a process that could take up to 12 months, then we will publish what’s known as a factual report,” he said.

Marion County Airport Director Margaret Pittman said the 64-year-old Sherbert was an experienced flyer she had known for 10 years. The accident occurred under perfect flying conditions, she said.

“Conditions were perfect,” Pittman said. “It’s just normal summer day, no extra wind. Visibility was good.”

Pittman said Sherbert did not build the plane himself. She added that it was not a plane he flew frequently from the airport.

Stein added that part of the perishable information contains witness statements. He encouraged witnesses to forward a statement to the NTSB at witness@ntsb.gov or call 202-314-6000.


Source:  http://www.scnow.com


MARION, S.C. — After Florence pilot John Sherbert cleared Runway 4 on Friday afternoon at the Marion County Airport, he steered his two-third scale P-51 Mustang aircraft into a turn and then disappeared.

Sherbert’s stunned wife watched in disbelief with two others airport operations, airport director Margaret Pittman said.

“I think John has crashed, I can’t see him any more,” Sherbert’s wife said, according to Pittman.

Pittman added, “It was as a spur of the moment thing. He made the turn and disappeared.”

A 911 call at 1:20 p.m. confirmed that the 64-year-old with a military background and years of flying experience had crashed into a cornfield just past the runway.

“He had already taken off from the airport, climbed to 1,000 feet and then just (went) nose down,” Pittman said.

Jerry Richardson, Marion County coroner, said Sherbert was killed on impact when his single-engine, single-occupant plane fell into a cornfield about a half mile from the airport.

Richardson said that there was no fire, and an autopsy would be performed Saturday at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Kathleen Bergen said the FAA was aware of the P-51 Mustang amateur built, experimental aircraft crashing. Aircraft registration noted the plane was built in 1980.

It’s unknown when a flier at the Marion County Airport advertising Sherbert’s plane was posted, but it lists the aircraft as having 765 hours of Total Time Air Frame. TTAF is a measurement of a plane’s mechanical age.

Pittman said the accident occurred under perfect flying conditions. She knew Sherbert for 10 years and said he was a capable pilot with a military background.

“Conditions were perfect,” Pittman said. “It’s just normal summer day, no extra wind. Visibility was good.”

Pittman said Sherbert did not build the plane himself. She added that it was not a plane he flew frequently from the airport.

Eric Weiss, a spokesman with the National Transportation Safety Board, confirmed an investigator would be investigating the cause of the crash. Officials cordoned off the scene until the investigator arrived later Friday.

Sherbert opened the dedication ceremony for the Florence Veterans Park in 2008, flying over in a WWII P-51 Mustang with the markings of the 357th Fighter Group.

Sherbert also owned a software company, J & S Software of SC Inc.

The last fatal plane crash in Marion County happened April 17, 2005. Williard “Will” Kay Mincey, 64, was flying a WWII P58 replica in a remote area of Marion County when his plane went down after hitting the top of some trees as it made a turn. Mincey, the sole occupant of the plane, was retired military and frequently flew his plane for small groups of friends, just as he had been doing before the plane crash.


Source:  http://www.scnow.com

MARION COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A small plane crashed on Bluff Road near the Marion County Airport Friday afternoon, killing the pilot, officials confirmed.

John Milton Sherbert, 65, of Florence was killed in the crash, Coroner Jerry Richardson confirmed.

The project plane crashed in a corn field shortly after taking off from the runway of the airport, resulting in the death of the pilot, said an official with the Marion County Airport.

The crash happened at the end of the airport, about 200 yards from the Highway 501 Bypass, according to Marion County Sheriff Mark Richardson.

The crash occurred at around 1:20 p.m. Friday, said Eric Weiss from the NTSB. The FAA will be investigating this crash, the airport official said.

The plane is described as a Mustang replica out of Florence, and was kept in a hanger at the Marion Airport, officials said. The airport official said the plane was not built by the pilot.

The cause of the crash is not known at this time.

An autopsy will be performed Saturday at the Medical University of South Carolina. Results from the autopsy could take up to a month to be determined, the coroner said.

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