Tuesday, September 3, 2013
They provide one way to keep the spirit of aviation’s history alive for future generations
Another pilot who flies World War I replica airplanes told investigators that the Fokker was designed to be highly maneuverable and was unstable. He said it was very pitch sensitive, that the ailerons were okay, and that the rudder was pretty powerful. He said the airplane climbs at about 65 mph and cruises about 105 mph. He said the airplane gives a warning before it stalls, but you have to get the nose pointed down quickly. He said he had flown the accident airplane at least three or four times.
The density altitude in the area was calculated to have been about 8,250 feet at the time of the accident. The airplane would have displayed decreased performance compared with operating at a lower density altitude. Calculations indicated the takeoff distance required to get airborne would have been more than double the requirement under standard conditions, and the airplane's rate of climb would have been decreased by 67%.
The NTSB determined that the probable cause of this accident was the pilot's loss of control of the airplane due to the airplane's reduced climb performance during high density altitude operations.
A replica Curtiss JN-4D struck power lines and crashed shortly after takeoff from the Owatonna Degner Regional Airport (OWA). The takeoff was made from grass in the direction of runway 30. The pilot was killed and the front-seat passenger received serious injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. It was VFR at the time.
The passenger recalled nothing about the accident. He did remember that the pilot, who owned the airplane, contacted him on the morning of the accident and asked him to the get the airplane ready to fly. The passenger, who had helped build the airplane, got it out of the hangar and put in fuel. He said the pilot arrived at the airport and flew the Jenny once around the pattern. The pilot then asked him if he wanted to go for a ride. The passenger told investigators that he remembers getting into the airplane, but nothing more.
A witness said he saw the airplane lift off, then looked away, and looked back to see the airplane banked 80 degrees to the left and turning. He said it didn't appear to be climbing. He said it entered a steep nose-down attitude.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate. His third class medical certificate had expired. At the time of his last medical, about three years before the accident, he reporting having 3,400 total flight hours. No recent logbooks could be found. The airplane was a replica of a 1917 bi-wing Curtiss Jenny. An overhauled, 90 hp, liquid-cooled, Curtiss OX-5 engine powered the airplane. It was issued a Special Airworthiness Certificate along with Experimental Operating Limitations.
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