Friday, February 13, 2015

American Grumman AA-1 Yankee, N6116L: Accident occurred February 08, 2015 in Fort Meade, Maryland

NTSB Identification: ERA15LA123 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, February 08, 2015 in Fort Meade, MD
Aircraft: AMERICAN AA-1, registration: N6116L
Injuries: 2 Serious.

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 February 8, 2015, about 1407 eastern standard time, an American AA-1, N6116L, collided with trees then the ground during a forced landing shortly after takeoff near Fort Meade, Maryland. The commercial-rated pilot and one passenger sustained serious injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged and was co-owned by three private individuals, operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a personal, local flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and a Washington, DC, SFRA flight plan was filed. The flight was originating at the time of the occurrence.

The pilot stated that the purpose was to perform touch-and-go landings to verify that previous repairs related to engine roughness eliminated the problem. He performed a preflight inspection of the airplane, and reported that no contamination was noted in the fuel sample from each tank that had 3/4 capacity. After engine start he taxied to runway 28, and performed a full power engine run-up that lasted between 2.0 and 2.5 minutes; the magneto drops were equally 75 rpm, and no engine roughness was noted.

With no flaps extended, the auxiliary fuel pump on, and the fuel selector on the right tank, he initiated takeoff from runway 28. He reported that during the takeoff roll when at 60 to 70 miles-per-hour (mph), he noted red line rpm of 2,500. The airplane became airborne about midpoint of the runway (normal), and he began climbing at 80 mph, which is Vx. About 30 to 40 seconds after full power application, while at about 250 feet above ground level, he noted an abrupt partial loss of engine power. He reported that the engine rpm dropped from 2,500 to 1,500 then went to 1,900. He cycled the magneto switch, applied carburetor heat, and then turned off the auxiliary fuel pump, but those actions did not restore engine power. He flared at tree top height, and the airplane collided with trees, then impacted the ground inverted. 

Jeff Barnett

FORT MEADE, Md. (WJZ) — One of the pilots trapped when their small plane went down near Fort Meade has just been released from the hospital. He’s giving WJZ his account of how he survived that crash in the woods.

Rick Ritter has his story.

Barnett just got out of the hospital Friday. He’s upbeat and in good spirits, but says he’s certainly very lucky to be alive.

A broken sternum fractured vertebrae and bruises all over. Jeff Barnett, 57, can barely move.

“You hit the trees at about 65, 75 miles-per-hour. After that, fate kind of takes over,” he said.

Fate that helped the longtime pilot live to tell his dramatic story.

“I’m very blessed and I keep telling him it was a miracle,” his wife, Melissa Barnett, said.

Sunday afternoon, Barnett’s single engine plane spiraled down into the woods near the Tipton Airport. On board–his close friend, 82-year-old Thomas Cline.

Rescuers scrambled to pull the two from the submerged wreck. They were both rushed to Shock Trauma.

“We were both very alert. Tom said, ‘Jeff, we’ve alive. We’re alive,’” said Barnett.

Barnett described what he called a beautiful day for flying that quickly turned disastrous after taking off.

“As we approached the trees, maybe 50 feet above them which would be normal for that airplane, the engine began to lose power,” he said.

Leaving the Glen Burnie pilot with just moments to make a life-saving move.

“In this case, we had all of ten seconds,” he said. “The only choice was to settle down into the trees. It was a noisy rough ride down. My only hope is it would land upright, and we didn’t.”
With a smile, Barnett said he never doubted his experience in the life or death moment.

Ritter: “Was there a time when you didn’t think you would make it out alive?”

Barnett: “I would like to think that superior skill caused it to be a survivable accident.”

A traumatic collision that would keep many off a plane for the rest of their lives—but not Barnett.

“It’s part of our lives, so we’re not going to give that up, of course,” he said.

The NTSB took the lead on the investigation. Still no word on what exactly caused the engine to start losing power.

Officials say the plane was registered to both Barnett and the passenger.

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