Thursday, October 27, 2016

Wittman W-10 Tailwind, N557CL: Fatal accident occurred October 26, 2016 near Pearland Regional Airport (KLVJ), Brazoria County, Texas

Jared Baxter Ryan

Jared Baxter Ryan, beloved son, brother, and uncle, went home to be with his Lord on Wednesday, October 26, 2016, at the age of 36.  

All who knew Jared were aware of his love of classic cars and airplanes, which he first developed as a child. His passion grew from models and RC planes to getting his pilot’s license in 2011. A week before his death, he fulfilled his lifelong dream of owning his own airplane, a yellow Wittman Tailwind which he loved perhaps even more than his classic 1984 Chevy El Camino.

In addition to flying, Jared enjoyed talking sports, talking politics, talking computers and sometimes just talking. He leaves behind a void that will be felt by his coworkers at C-Panel, his fellow members of the EAA Flight Club, but mostly by those who loved him most – his close family.

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Houston, Texas
Lycoming Engines; Dallas, Texas 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Pearland, TX
Accident Number: CEN17FA026
Date & Time: 10/26/2016, 1730 CDT
Registration: N557CL
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On October 26, 2016, about 1730 central daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Wittman Tailwind W-10 airplane, N557CL, was destroyed when it impacted terrain on the eastern edge of Pearland Regional Airport (LVJ), Pearland, Texas. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight, and no flight plan had been filed. The airplane departed on runway 14 at LVJ just before the accident.

One witness at the airport stated that he saw the airplane climb out in a "nose high" attitude. Another witness at the airport stated that the airplane's flight "was uncoordinated to the point that it did not look right." Both witnesses reported seeing the airplane enter an uncoordinated turn, then enter a stall/spin. These witnesses as well as a third witness said that the airplane's engine was at full power.

Video captured on an airport surveillance camera showed the airplane departing runway 14 in a nose-high attitude. During climbout, the wings were rocking left and right. At an altitude about 500 ft above ground level, near midfield, the airplane entered a left turn. The airplane then leveled to straight and level flight for a brief period before entering a steep left turn with a nose-high attitude. The left wing dropped, and the airplane entered a nose-down spin to the left and completed one full rotation before impacting the ground.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 36, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/21/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 02/06/2016
Flight Time: 243.2 hours (Total, all aircraft), 22.3 hours (Total, this make and model)

The pilot, age 36, held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. His Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class airman medical certificate was issued on April 21, 2016, with no limitations. The pilot's logbook indicated that he had 243.2 hours of flight experience as of October 20, 2016, with 1.3 hours in the accident airplane. The pilot's last flight review was completed on February 6, 2016.

According to the logbook, the pilot had a total of 22.3 hours in Wittman Tailwind airplanes, 3.2 hours of which were training. He received 2.2 hours of transition training in a Wittman Tailwind W-8 a few weeks before purchasing the accident airplane, and 1.0 hours of training in the accident airplane on October 20, 2016, when he purchased the airplane. All of the training was provided by the same flight instructor. The flight in the accident airplane consisted of 5 takeoffs and landings with the instructor, followed by 2 solo takeoffs and landings. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: ROE CLEO
Registration: N557CL
Aircraft Category: Unknown
Year of Manufacture: 1992
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 557
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 10/02/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 642.7 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: C91  installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-320-E2D
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 150 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

The airplane's experimental airworthiness Certificate was issued on November 11, 1992. The airplane was a two-seat, high-wing, tailwheel airplane, and it was powered by a 150-horsepower Lycoming O-320-E2D engine driving a glass-composite, 2-blade, fixed-pitch Catto propeller. The most recent condition inspection was completed on October 2, 2016, at 642.7 hours total time.

The airplane was equipped with a header fuel tank that held 33.1 gallons. Refueling records revealed that the airplane had been most recently refueled at 1705 the day of the accident with 8.1 gallons of 100 low lead aviation fuel at LVJ. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KLVJ, 44 ft msl
Observation Time: 2153 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 203°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C / 17°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots, 110°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.1 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Pearland, TX (LVJ)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Pearland, TX (LVJ)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time:  CST
Type of Airspace: Class G

At 1653, the automated surface observing system at LVJ reported wind from 110° at 8 knots, visibility 10 miles, temperature 29° Celsius (C); dew point 17°C, and an altimeter setting of 30.10 inches of mercury.

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Concrete
Airport Elevation: 43 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 14
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 4313 ft / 75 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Traffic Pattern 

LVJ is a non-towered airport. The airport is equipped with one runway, runway 14/32 measuring 4,313-ft in length and 75-feet in width. The reported field elevation of the airport is 43.9 ft mean sea level. 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  29.525278, -95.238889 

The main wreckage was located in a grassy area on the east side of LVJ. The aircraft came to rest at a magnetic heading of 315ยบ at an elevation of 54 ft. The airplane sustained aft crushing of the nose and forward fuselage section, as well as impact damage to the leading edge of the right wing from the wingtip to the wing strut. The damage appeared to be consistent with a nose and right wing-low impact with the ground. Fuel blight was observed on the grass surrounding the wreckage of the aircraft.

Flight control continuity was established for all flight control surfaces up to the cockpit. Continuity to the controls inside the cockpit could not be established due to impact damage.

The propeller was embedded about 10 inches into the ground, and both blades were broken off consistent with impact forces. The propeller hub and remnants of the propeller spinner remained attached to the crankshaft flange. The propeller spinner displayed damage signatures that were consistent with engine power at the time of impact.

The engine was rotated by hand from the vacuum pump pad, and thumb compression was observed at all cylinders except for the No.1 cylinder. Valve train and crankshaft continuity were confirmed by observation of normal rocker and valve movement and rotation of all accessory gears.

The No. 1 cylinder was removed and examined. The cylinder barrel was leak checked using water, and there was no drainage through the valves. The cylinder walls were unremarkable. The piston and rings were intact and unremarkable. The loss of compression on the No. 1 cylinder was consistent with an extended wear pattern and loss of ring tension on the piston rings.

The carburetor was destroyed by impact, and no fuel was observed in the carburetor components. The engine-driven diaphragm fuel pump was removed and actuated by hand; thumb compression was obtained. The fuel gascolator screen was removed and found to be unremarkable.

The left magneto was found broken from the accessory housing. It was rotated by hand, and a spark was obtained from all outlet points. The electronic Plasma ignition located in the right magneto position was secure; it was removed and examined but was unable to be tested due to impact damage.

The top spark plugs were Denso automotive plugs. An automotive spark plug wiring harness had been installed to the top spark plugs. The harness was observed undamaged but was not tested. The bottom spark plugs were Tempest Urem 38E massive electrode plugs. The Bendix ignition leads attached to the bottom spark plugs were destroyed by impact.

The starter and alternator were attached to their respective mounts but were destroyed by impact. The oil system was destroyed by impact. The oil suction screen and the oil pressure screen were observed free of contaminants. Some of the oil carrying lines were broken during impact.

Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The County of Galveston, Medical Examiner's Office, Texas City, Texas, conducted an autopsy of the pilot. The cause of death for the pilot was attributed to "blunt force injuries."

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on specimens from the pilot. The toxicology results were negative for carbon monoxide, ethanol, and drugs. 

Additional Information

Airplane Transition Training Guidance

FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 90-109A, "Transition to Unfamiliar Aircraft," recommends training for pilots transitioning to any unfamiliar fixed-wing airplane, including type-certificated or experimental airplanes. The AC states that "accident analysis indicates that subsequent owners and/or pilots of experimental and/or unfamiliar airplanes have a higher accident rate during initial flight time than did the original owner. Therefore, the recommendation is that the subsequent owners/pilots of experimental airplanes receive airplane-specific training before operating the airplane." The AC provides training guidance for flight instructors who teach in these airplanes. It recommends that training cover stall characteristics, including the airplane's slow flight behavior and response to control inputs at slow speeds. According to the AC, most of the pilot's total flight time was in airplanes with flight characteristics that could be defined as "Low-Inertia and/or High-drag." The Wittman Tailwind airplane has flight characteristics that are considered "High-Inertia and/or Low Drag" with "Light control Forces and/or Rapid Airplane Response."

During an interview conducted by an FAA inspector, the flight instructor who provided training to the pilot in the accident airplane stated that she did not provide training on stall characteristics as recommended in the AC. The instructor pilot was asked if the pilot had difficulty keeping the airplane in coordinated flight, to which she replied, "he was having an issue with that and did better on his last few flights."

NTSB Identification: CEN17FA026
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, October 26, 2016 in Pearland, TX
Aircraft: ROE CLEO WITTMAN TAILWIND W10, registration: N557CL
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 October 26, 2016 about 1730 central daylight time (CDT), a Wittman Tailwind W-10, N557CL, was destroyed when it impacted terrain on the eastern edge of Pearland Regional Airport (LVJ), Pearland, Texas. The airplane had just departed from runway 14 on a local flight. The private pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The airplane was privately registered and operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and no flight plan had been filed.

PEARLAND, Texas - A Houston pilot is dead tonight after his plane crashed down at Pearland Regional Airport.

The accident happened around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday off County Road 124 and County Road 127 near the airport.

Preliminary information from the Texas Department of Public Safety and Federal Aviation Administration indicates that an experimental category Wittman Tailwind aircraft crashed upon take-off.

Officials identified the pilot as 36-year old Jared Baxter Ryan of Houston. 

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