Sunday, November 01, 2020

American Aviation AA-5 Traveler, N920JL: Accident occurred October 25, 2020 near Baxley Municipal Airport (KBHC), Georgia

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. 

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Atlanta, Georgia

Location: Baxley, GA 
Accident Number: ERA21LA030
Date & Time: October 25, 2020, 13:37 Local 
Registration: N920JL
Aircraft: Grumman AA5 
Injuries: 1 Minor, 2 None
Flight Conducted Under:

On October 25, 2020, at 1337 eastern daylight time, a Grumman AA5 airplane, N920JL, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident in Baxley, Georgia. The private pilot sustained minor injuries; the two passengers were not injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

According to the pilot, he performed a preflight inspection of the airplane using the checklist and found no anomalies. He then taxied to the fueling station and added 12 gallons, which filled both the left and the right fuel tanks to “the tabs” (resulting in a quantity of about 13 gallons in each 19 gallon capacity tank). He then resampled the fuel from the tanks, reboarded the airplane, and taxied to runway 26. Prior to takeoff, he performed an engine run-up, and checked the magnetos, carburetor heat, fuel pressure, oil pressure and temperature. After takeoff, at an altitude of about 500 feet mean sea level (msl), he checked the instruments, which “looked good” and the airplane was climbing about 500 feet per minute. About 600 feet msl, the airplane “didn’t feel right” and he noticed a “significant loss of power”. He then lowered the nose in an attempt to gain speed, however the airplane “was not gaining speed and it started to descend”. He focused his attention outside the airplane and selected a location for an off-airport landing. He did not look at the instruments, but he recalled that the propeller continued to rotate. The airplane landed in a wooded area of 4 to 8-ft-tall pine trees.

Examination of the accident scene by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that the airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings. The left wing was fractured near its root and bent downward about mid span. The right wing sustained leading edge damage near its tip and was also bent downward about mid span. Fuel was present in both tanks and leaking from the left tank, which was breached. The fuel selector was in the left position. The throttle control was nearly full forward (about ½ inch ‘out’), the mixture control was full rich, the carburetor heat control was off, and the primer control was in and locked. The engine was partially separated from the firewall. 

Engine crankshaft and valve train continuity were confirmed by rotating the propeller by hand. All valve push rods and rocker arms were undamaged and operated as expected. The vacuum pump at the rear of the engine rotated as the propeller was turned. Oil was present around the base of cylinder No. 2. A cold compression test was performed on each cylinder and some leakage was observed on one cylinder. The top spark plugs were removed, the No.1 spark plug was oil soaked, the Nos. 2-4 spark plugs appeared normal. Both magnetos produced spark on all leads when rotated with an electric drill. The air intake scoop and boot were free of obstructions. The induction air filter contained a small amount of debris but was unobstructed. The fuel line from the electric boost pump outlet to the engine driven fuel pump inlet was removed. It contained fuel that was blue in color and contained some sediment. The electric boost pump fuel filter contained blue fuel and sediment. The fuel pump power wire was broken, consistent with impact damage. The pump operated when external electric power was applied. The engine-driven fuel pump outlet line was removed, and fuel was present in the line. The pump actuating rod inside the engine moved up and down when the propeller was rotated by hand, the pump was removed and discharged fuel from the outlet when operated manually.

The throttle and mixture controls remained securely attached to the carburetor. The carburetor was removed, and the throttle and mixture levers moved freely from stop to stop. The accelerator pump sprayed fuel when the throttle lever was moved to the full open position. The carburetor inlet screen was absent of debris. The carburetor bowl was removed and was about 1/8 full of fuel. The floats were intact and moved freely, the inlet needle valve opened and closed at the float assembly when moved up and down by hand.

Heavy soot was present on the exhaust riser adjacent to the carburetor heat muff. The carburetor heat hose flange on the muff exhibited some burn through and cracking. After removal of the heat muff, a 1/8” hole was found in the exhaust riser, with cracks emanating from each side of the hole. Soot was present on the inside of the carburetor heat hose, inside of the carburetor heat air box, on both sides of the air box butterfly valve, and in the carburetor throat and venturi.

According to the airplane owner, the airplane was not flown for about 10 years prior to his purchasing it about 4 months prior to the accident. The airplane accrued about 200 hours since that purchase, and during that interval, two 100-hr inspections were performed. The first on August 2, 2020 at an aircraft total time of 1,956 hours, and again on October 22, 2020 at an aircraft total time of 2,060 hours.

A review of the pilot’s logbook revealed that the last entry was a record for the pilot’s most recent flight review, which was completed on July 3, 2020. The flight was 1.1 hours and was in the accident airplane. The review did not reveal any additional flight experience in the same make/model.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Grumman 
Registration: N920JL
Model/Series: AA5 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: AMG,206 ft msl
Observation Time: 13:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 12 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 26°C /19°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 2200 ft AGL
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.93 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Baxley, GA
Destination: Baxley, GA

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 None 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor, 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 31.713833,-82.393778 (est)

On October 25th, at approx. 1330 hrs. a small aircraft crashed shortly after taking off from Baxley Municipal Airport. 

The aircraft came to rest in a field just south of the runway. 

The aircraft was occupied by the pilot, Walter Darrel Elium Jr. of Jesup Georgia and two passengers, Thomas Lovett III and Jessica Lovett both of Leland, North Carolina.

All occupants were transported to Appling Healthcare and treated for non life threatening injuries. 

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident.

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