The BD-5, an experimental amateur-built airplane equipped with an automobile engine, was never certified as airworthy, therefore, it was never issued an airworthiness certificate. The pilot reported that he intended to perform a fly-by before landing at the airport in Mount Airy, N.C.
As he approached the runway about 50 feet above ground level, and advanced the throttle to full, the engine quit. The pilot pitched the airplane up and to the right, then turned to the left.
The airspeed decreased to 100 mph, and the airplane started to vibrate, so the pilot quickly leveled the wings and pitched downward to prevent the plane from entering a stall. The pilot continued to fly a wings-level descent until the airplane hit the ground, seriously injuring the pilot.
Examination of the airplane revealed that the engine choke cable was rigged backwards. Therefore, pulling the choke knob out opened the choke valve and pushing it in closed it.
The choke knob, which was located directly behind the pilot’s head, was found pushed in during the post-accident examination.
Investigators determined that it was likely that the pilot’s head contacted the choke while he was responding to the loss of engine power, which resulted in a closed choke and a corresponding total loss of engine power.
The NTSB determined the probable cause of the accident as a total loss of engine power due to the pilot’s inadvertent closing of the engine choke. Contributing to the accident was the improper rigging of the engine choke cable.
NTSB Identification: ERA13LA167
This March 2013 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.