Friday, July 04, 2014

Ultimate Aero 10-200, N827D: Accident occurred April 18, 2014 in Saint Albans, Vermont


NTSB Identification: ERA14LA202 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, April 18, 2014 in Saint Albans, VT
Aircraft: OCONNOR PAUL A ULTIMATE AERO 10-200, registration: N827D
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On April 18, 2012, about 1203 eastern daylight time, an experimental, amateur built Ultimate Aero 10-200, N827D, was substantially damaged near Saint Albans, Vermont, after an in-flight separation of a propeller blade. The commercial rated pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight operated under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, which departed Franklin County State Airport (FSO), Highgate, Vermont about 1200.

According to the pilot, He had just recently returned from an airshow in Florida where he had been performing aerobatics with the airplane. On the day of the accident, he was performing a "high-level shakedown" flight, which was his common practice after a long cross country flight. He stated that "the shakedown flight is made at a higher altitude to ensure the satisfactory condition of the aircraft". He departed FSO at approximately 1200 (he reports this is his normal daily practice time) and departed the traffic pattern to the west. He then climbed to 3,000 feet above mean sea level (msl), over some farm fields. He went to begin his high-level shakedown maneuvers but since he was in a "flat pitch attitude" decided to head approximately northeast. As he did so, there was a sudden loud bang/shudder and the canopy shattered. The pilot initially thought there was some type of catastrophic structural failure, and thought a wing had failed. The engine "stopped instantly" and the canopy "clam-shell opened and then slammed back down". He realized that the airplane was "un-flyable" after trying to control the airplane with the flight controls. The airplane then began to spin and he could not arrest the spin. He related that it seemed like a "car accident" loud and sudden and that it seemed the aircraft had lost a lot of forward airspeed.

He advised that before every flight he would practice his egress routine. When he realized that he could not arrest the spin and the airplane was un-flyable, he decided to leave the airplane and initiated an egress. The egress went as planned but his headset jacks would not unplug easily and he ended up breaking them off. He advised that this caused him some concern and a challenge to alleviate the issue. He could not remember what altitude he egressed from the airplane but, after exiting the airplane, his parachute deployed fully at 700 to 1,000 feet msl, and he came to rest in the top of a tree.

According to two witnesses at FSO, They were both familiar with the pilot's airshow practice routine, and the airplane. Both witnesses stated that a couple of minutes after the airplane took off that they heard a normal engine noise followed by a "pop" or a "bang". They both stated that they then ran to the open door of the hangar they were in and looked to the northwest of the airport they saw that the pilot had egressed the airplane and was already descending under a fully deployed chute. They stated that he was approximately 500' to 1,000 feet high and above the trees and was drifting to the northeast.

The airplane was later discovered on the shoulder of the north bound lane of Interstate 89 were it had impacted, and was subject to a post impact fire which consumed the majority of the airplane.

Postaccident examination of the wreckage revealed that a propeller blade had separated from the two bladed constant speed propeller's hub.

The propeller hub, the remaining propeller blade, and the propeller governor were retained by the NTSB for further examination.


BURLINGTON - Dan Marcotte was back in the air for Burlington's Independence Day Celebration Thursday night.

Since 2003, Dan has performed loops and turns at airshows. But this time, he was flying a brand new plane--his old one was destroyed in a crash on I-89 in April.

"One of the blades had removed itself from the hub," Dan told us at the Franklin County Airport, where he fixes planes as his day job.

During his lunch break, he flies--practicing his routine. We mounted a GoPro on his brand new plane, which he put together quickly after the crash.

When his old plane's propeller broke on a flight back from a Florida airshow, Dan had to think fast--executing the "Egress" technique, which is how a pilot ejects him or herself from a plane.

"When you have a catastrophic failure like that, where the decision is made for have no ability to land the airplane, or control it, your mind goes into all the training. Goes into autopilot," Dan said. He showed us the 18-pound parachute he was wearing during the crash.

"I extracted myself from the airplane and pulled my emergency chute at about 700 feet, and safely coasted in a popple tree," he said.

His safety training helped him save his own life. It's not a simple process to get out of a plane when a pilot is so securely strapped in.

"I practice every time that I get in my airplane," Dan explained. "I go through how to remove the canopy, how to remove the seat belts, how to eject myself from the airplane and then pull the rip cord."

He was back in the air within days.

"There's some nervousness that time will heal," he said.

But the intense focus and skill required to fly at 250-mile-an-hour speeds in front of thousands of people makes him forget his nerves.

"I visualize my flight before I take off...and then I fly the routine. Once I'm back in the air...I really enjoy it."

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