Aircraft: Velocity RG. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Sanford, N.C. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The 375-hour pilot had owned the airplane for seven years and in that time had flown it for a total of 24 hours. His last flight took place 18 months before the fatal accident.
The airplane’s airworthiness certificate was issued in 1996. According to airplane and maintenance records, the airplane had accrued 143.8 total aircraft hours as of May 2011. The most recent annual inspection was completed March 1, 2008, at 131.8 total aircraft hours, three years before the accident.
Five months before the accident, the pilot requested that the local maintenance facility draft a list of discrepancies that would require correction to return the airplane to an airworthy condition. The discrepancy list included the frozen turbocharger waste gate.
According to fueling records at the airport, the airplane was last fueled on March 21, 2010, at which time the airplane was serviced with 43 gallons of 100LL. The airport manager stated that he was “reasonably certain” that the airplane had not flown since that date.
The airport manager said that the pilot/owner would come out to the airport, tinker with the airplane, start the engine, and taxi the airplane, but that the airplane had not flown in years.
Two pilots operating in the traffic pattern of the departure airport at the time of the accident described a takeoff roll for the airplane that was twice as long as expected. They observed the airplane at “very low” altitude, in a continuous, descending left turn in the vicinity of the crosswind to downwind legs of the traffic pattern. The airplane then disappeared from view, and a fireball appeared from the woods.
Examination of the wreckage revealed no pre-impact mechanical anomalies in the flight control system, but it did reveal that the turbocharger waste gate was frozen in a nearly full-open position due to corrosion. This discrepancy resulted in a loss of available boost pressure and significantly reduced available power. If the pilot had flown more recently, it is possible that he may have recognized that the airplane was not performing normally and aborted the takeoff.
Probable cause: The pilot/owner’s intentional flight of his airplane with known mechanical discrepancies, which resulted in a partial loss of engine power and subsequent collision with trees and terrain shortly after takeoff. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s lack of recent experience.
NTSB Identification: ERA11FA504
This September 2011 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.