Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Charlotte, North Carolina
Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf
NTSB Identification: ERA17LA102
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, February 06, 2017 in Morganton, NC
Aircraft: SHELL JOHN SUPER SIX, registration: N426KS
Injuries: 1 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 6, 2017, at 1615 eastern standard time, an experimental-exhibition Super Six, N426KS, collided with trees and terrain during a forced landing shortly after take-off from Silver Creek Airport (NC52), Morganton, North Carolina. The airplane was substantially damaged and the private pilot/owner was seriously injured. The airplane was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed near the accident site at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight.
The owner stated he would occasionally run the airplane's engine and would not fly it, but on the day of the accident, he decided to take the airplane up around the pattern one time. He conducted a preflight inspection on the airplane, that included "sticking" the fuel tanks to ensure there was enough fuel for the short flight. The pilot remembered the run-up, takeoff roll and rotation, but did not remember anything else until he woke up in the ambulance.
Witnesses reported that they heard the engine "sputtering," and saw the airplane descend through the trees before it came to rest and caught fire.
Initial examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that it struck trees and terrain about 3,500 feet west of the departure end of the runway in a wooded area, about 250 feet from residential buildings. The cockpit, left inboard wing and right wing were partially consumed by fire. The outboard portion of the left wing was located about 25 feet up in a tree aft of the main wreckage. The empennage had impact and fire damage and was twisted. The engine remained attached to the airframe and exhibited fire and impact damage.
The reduction gear box and propeller separated from the engine and were located approximately 50 feet from the wreckage in a clearing. The propeller exhibited no rotational damage and one of the three blades was bent slightly aft in a near feathered position. The propeller dome was crushed on one side.
The metal fuel tank had been punctured but the fuel sump contained a small amount of liquid that had the smell and color of 100LL Aviation Fuel.
The two-seat, single-engine, low-wing, tailwheel-equipped airplane was powered by a Pratt and Whitney, R1830-92, 1,200 hp engine. The airplane's airworthiness certificate was issued on March 21, 2011. The airplane had accumulated approximately 85 hours of total flight time. The last condition inspection was completed on April 6, 2016 at 77.6 hours total aircraft time. According to the pilot's son, who had 75 hours in the airplane, the fuel burn during cruise flight was 50 gallons per hour. During takeoff, the fuel burn was 120 gallons per hour and the fuel boost pump should be turned on.
The weather conditions reported at Hickory Regional Airport (HKY), Hickory, North Carolina, located 17 miles to the east of the accident site, included wind from 210° true at 8 knots, with no clouds or restrictions to visibility. The temperature was 18 degrees C with a dew point of -1 degrees C and the altimeter setting was 30.08 inches of mercury.
The engine was retained for further examination.
One man was injured in a plane crash in Morganton on Monday afternoon.
John Henry Shell Sr., 84, of Morganton, was taken to Carolinas HealthCare Systems Blue Ridge in Morganton and is reported as being stable, said Capt. Jason Whisnant with Morganton Department of Public Safety.
A source close to Shell said that he received lacerations to the face and was "bruised and banged up" and will be taken to a Charlotte hospital for further evaluation.
Shell was flying an experimental aircraft in the area of Jamestown Road and Rain Tree Lane when he crashed in a field near the road around 4:30 p.m., Whisnant said.
There were no others in the plane with Shell, he said.
Authorities believe he may have started the flight at the Silver Creek Airport, which was less than a mile from where the crash happened near the carbon plant in Morganton.
There was heavy fire and smoke when police and firefighters arrived on scene and the pilot was already out of the plane, Whisnant said.
“It appears there were some mechanical issues with the plane just from what witnesses are stating,” Whisnant said. “The plane began losing altitude a short distance from here.”
The crash also caused nearby woods and a field to catch fire and firefighters responding by applying a foam spray to suppress the fire before it spread.
John Garrington, of Morganton, was driving by when he saw the plane go down. He was the first to call 911 and trekked through the woods to find others helping the pilot out of the plane.
Tyler Woodard, who lives near to where the crash happened, saw the plane flying around the area several times.
“I guess he was doing little trial runs and it looked to be just fine, good clean runs as far as I would say,” Woodard said. “I am sitting from the porch of the apartments and I literally see something come down and it exploded.”
Woodard immediately began running toward the flames to help pull Shell out with the help of another man who saw the plane plummet, too.
“We drug him out and saw his nose and that it was busted up,” Woodard said. “We both looked to see if there was anybody else secondary in there and me and the other gentleman were prepared to go in, but he (Shell) said first hand that nobody else was with him.”
Woodard said that Shell was alert and coherent and was able to get himself over to a vehicle.
“I think when the (first) responders got here that is when he really figured out what had happened,” Woodard said.
Woodard said it was a blessing that Shell was still alive and that some neighbors came over and prayed with him.
The plane was a total loss, and part of it was lodged in a tree after making impact before striking the ground.
Responding agencies were Morganton Department of Public Safety, North Carolina State Highway Patrol, Burke County Fire Marshal’s Office, Burke REACT, Burke County Rescue Squad and Burke EMS.
Story and photo gallery: http://www.morganton.com