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ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS
(From CP39, Page 5, January, 1984)

     The Canard Pusher newsletter reports on accidents, discusses their conditions and causes in order to disseminate any information to operators of similar aircraft. This information is published here purely in the hope that possibly someone in the future may be saved from the same situation. It should be recognized in discussions of accident conditions or causes that generally this information is preliminary since it is being published before the availability of the FAA or NTSB accident reports.
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     A modified LongEZ crashed on the Southern California coast. (This accident was mentioned briefly in CP37). We have actively been trying to determine a possible cause on this one but so far have been frustrated. Although there were a few eye-witnesses, their information is sketchy and contradictory. Several witnesses reported seeing the aircraft flying low along the beach and pulling up into steeply banked turns. No one ‘we have talked to saw the actual impact. We have carefully examined the wreckage and it appears that the airplane struck the beach with very little forward speed in a flat attitude. There was no evidence of rotation. This aircraft has a non-standard fuel system. A header tank containing 5 gallons was built into the space over the center-section spar, aft of the passengers head. This tank was kept full with a fuel pump at all times, and the engine was gravity fed from this header tank.
     The aft cg, and the vertical cg of this fuel possibly contributed to an unacceptably aft cg condition for the airplane, particularly at higher deck angles, when the vertical cg would cause a worse aft cg condition. We have been quite frustrated in our attempts to obtain accurate weight and balance data, but our best efforts indicate a probable out of limits aft cg condition. We know this aircraft made its first flight with 30 lbs of ballast in the nose. There was no evidence of any ballast in the wreckage.
      NOTE: We would like to reiterate what we said in CP 37. Due to individual builder tolerance build-ups, and contour variances, you cannot assume that your airplane will behave exactly like the original prototype, N79RA. Because of possible variances, we are now making the aft cg limit of F.S. 103 (recommended in CP 37). a mandatory permanent change.
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     An Australian VariEze struck a power transmission line. The airplane crashed into a reservoir. The pilot and the passenger were fatally injured. The weather was reportedly a factor, for in order to stay in VMC conditions they were flying at low altitude.
     A Southern California VariEze crashed while attempting to land. The pilot was fatally injured. The weather was clear with unrestricted visibility. The wind was directly down the runway at 5 knots. The pilot made two attempts to land. Making a second go around, the airplane climbed steeply, turned left, the bank angle increased to 900, hesitated for one or two seconds, then rolled inverted and crashed nose down in a wings level, inverted attitude. No control systems or engine problems were found. This pilot had recently bought the airplane. He had entered VarlEze time in his logbook. However, evidence suggested he was on his first flight and had improperly logged time for insurance purposes. He was a low time pilot with very little recent time. The probable cause of this accident was lack of experience and low proficiency.
     A VariEze crashed in Arizona in front of several eye witnesses. The pilot was fatally injured. The aircraft made several high speed low passes in the vicinity of the witnesses, then on the last pass, pulled up steeply and initiated a roll. The roll maneuver was not quite completed and the aircraft struck the ground. This pilot was observed a few days earlier doing "aggressive aerobatics" In his VariEze. The aircraft had only 14 hours total time since new.
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     A Long-EZ ran off the end of the runway during an attempt to take off in the threat of a rapidly approaching thunderstorm. The pilot broke both ankles and passenger suffered some heavy bruising when the aircraft overturned and was seriously damaged. A thunderstorm was closing in from the north. The wind was only about 5 knots when the pilot began to taxi out. He elected to take off downwind. According to eye-witnesses the wind rapidly built up to an estimated 45 knots on the tail during the aircraft’s take off roll. In the pilot’s words "the accident was caused by pilot judgement, not by the plane".
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     A California VariEze, travelling through Arizona was destroyed in a weather-related accident. The pilot and passenger were both fatally Injured. The weather was reported as a 500 foot ceiling, poor visibility in sleet and freezing rain.
     The aircraft totally disintegrated in the air. Very little damage was due to the impact with the ground. We spent a lot of time looking for possible causes, and we carefully examined all of the pieces which were found. The wreckage was spread down wind for over 2 miles. The damage showed signs of extreme high speed flutter, rather then overload due to excessive g. This accident was probably caused by the pilot pushing on into bad weather, or possibly trying to climb over bad weather. He may have become disoriented or overcome by hypoxia, the aircraft probably ended up straight down at very high speed. Finally it reached a speed beyond anything intended for this design, when it literally experienced flutter over the entire airframe.
     The important point to note is that there was no evidence of a massive 'g' overload, such as would be expected if the pilot tried to pull out of a high speed dive, was found. All of the evidence points to total catastrophic failure due to high frequency, divergent flutter. The damage could only have resulted from an extreme over-speed condition, possibly in the region of 400 knots plus.