Monday, May 27, 2019

Champion 7GCAA Citabria, registered to and operated by Last Pass Aviation as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight, N9026L: Fatal accident occurred June 29, 2018 in Arthur County, Nebraska

Nicholas Kinsey “Nick” Hanson

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Lincoln, Nebraska
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Arthur, NE
Accident Number: CEN18FA242
Date & Time: 06/29/2018, 1245 MDT
Registration: N9026L
Aircraft: Champion 7GCAA
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On June 29, 2018, about 1245 mountain daylight time, a Champion 7GCAA airplane, N9026L, impacted terrain while maneuvering near Arthur, Nebraska. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and was being operated by Last Pass Aviation as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions existed in the area of the accident, which departed without a flight plan from Thomas County Airport (TIF), Thedford, Nebraska, about 1115. 

The pilot was performing aerobatic maneuvers at a cattle branding event. A witness reported that, following a loop and rolling maneuver, the airplane began to climb in a vertical attitude. The airplane subsequently rolled left and made a series of left-turning spins as it descended to ground contact.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 28, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 06/26/2018
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 02/15/2018
Flight Time: 3200 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1100 hours (Total, this make and model) 

The pilot, age 28, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single- and multi-engine land and instrument ratings, and a flight instructor certificate with airplane single- and multi-engine and instrument ratings. On June 26, 2018, the pilot was issued a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical certificate with a restriction for corrective lenses. The pilot had recently started training for agricultural application operations and had flown about 30 hours in an Air Tractor AT502 airplane.

According to an insurance application from March 2018, the pilot reported that he had 1,100 hours of aerobatic flight experience in the accident airplane make and model. Most of this experience occurred while instructing spin, aerobatic, and upset recovery training at a flight school in California. The pilot's logbook was not available for review.

Before departing on the accident flight, the pilot informed his father that he had been feeling very ill and nauseated during the previous flight that day due to significant in-flight turbulence. Because of this issue, the pilot informed a friend at the cattle branding event that he might not be able to perform the flyover. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Champion
Registration: N9026L
Model/Series: 7GCAA
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1970
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Aerobatic; Normal
Serial Number: 215-70
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 10/02/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1650 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 26 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 6517 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: C91  installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-320-A2B
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 150 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held:None  

The two-seat, high-wing, fixed-gear airplane was manufactured in 1970 and was equipped with a Lycoming O-320-A2B engine and a McCauley two-blade, all-metal, fixed pitch propeller. On October 2, 2017, the airplane underwent an annual inspection at an airframe total time of 6,507 hours and 2,194 hours since engine overhaul. The accident occurred about 26 hours after this inspection.

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KOGA, 3250 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 28 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1235 MDT
Direction from Accident Site: 196°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 10 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 330°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.77 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 30°C / 20°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Thedford, NE (TIF)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Alliance, NE (AIA)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1115 MDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

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: 41.562222, -101.599722 

The airplane impacted a grassy meadow with no evidence of postimpact ground fire. Both wings were upright and exhibited significant crushing and deformation. The empennage was twisted to the left, with the outer edge of the left elevator resting near the left aileron. The engine was partially buried at an approximate 30° angle in relation to the surrounding terrain. The left gear strut was significantly deformed.

The propeller remained attached to the engine. One of the propeller blades, which was buried into the ground, was nearly straight with minimal damage or polishing. The other propeller blade, which was out of the ground, was twisted aft about 180° and displayed polishing and chordwise gouges. 

The flight control surfaces remained attached to their respective airframe attach points and the horizontal and vertical stabilizers were not damaged. Flight control cable continuity was confirmed to all flight control surfaces with no anomalies noted.

Examination of the engine revealed normal power train continuity. Thumb compression and suction were observed on all four cylinders and a borescope inspection revealed no anomalies with the pistons, cylinder barrels, cylinder heads, valves, or valve seats. The spark plugs exhibited a dark gray color and the electrodes exhibited normal wear patterns.

The magnetos sparked normally at all leads during rotation. The carburetor bowl was impact damaged with no fuel present. The fuel gascolator screen, carburetor screen, and oil pickup were clear of contaminants. The engine exhaust system was impact damaged; the heat muff was intact with no cracks or exhaust erosion.

Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

Medical And Pathological Information

The Regional West Medical Center Pathology Department, Scottsbluff, Nebraska, performed an autopsy on the pilot. The cause of death was blunt force injuries. Toxicology testing performed at the FAA Forensic Sciences Laboratory was negative for drugs and alcohol.

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