| Home | Articles | CP reprints |(From CP41, Page 6, July, 1984)
A northern California
VariEze crashed soon after take off. Several eye-witnesses observed the canopy open
immediately after lift off. The pilot was observed to reach up to the canopy with both
hands. The aircraft veered to the left and struck the ground 200 feet left of the runway
centerline. The pilot did not survive. The NTSB investigator confirmed that there was no
damage to the canopy latches and that they were in the unlocked position. They noted that
there was no canopy safety catch.
ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS
See CP #40, Page 4 for more information on canopy opening in
flight. The biggest point is FLY THE AIRPLANE. You can not possibly get back safely
if you dont gather your thoughts and concentrate on flying the airplane.
A Long-EZ was seriously damaged after the engine failed a few
moments after take off in Minnesota. The pilot executed a 1800 turn and attempted to land
on the runway he had just lifted off from. Unfortunately he misjudged his glide landing on
the last 1/3 of the runway. A 15 knot tailwind did not help and he rolled off the end,
down a slope Into a ravine. The nose gear collapsed, the nose dug in and the airplane
flipped. The pilot and passenger suffered only minor cuts and bruises. There was no fire
and in fact neither of the fuel tanks was even damaged. An FAA/NTSB investigation failed
to reveal any clue as to why the engine had quit.
The aircraft had had a similar incident occur just a few days
prior to this accident. That time the pilot managed to execute a safe landing. A careful
examination of the engine, mags and carburetor revealed nothing. The airplane was then
successfully tested, and in fact had flown from southern California to Minnesota with no
problem at all.
We talked with the pilot this morning and while driving his
damaged airplane home, he had plenty of time to try to think of all that had happened and
why it had happened. He came up with a theory that certainly could have been the cause.
This airplane had the mag switches (two toggle switches) mounted on the left side of the
roll over structure. The switches were not covered or protected inside the roll over
structure. Two spiral bound notebooks were stored in the roll over structure. The
pilots theory is that possibly one or both books moved against the terminals of the
mag switches and possibly shorted the mags to ground. This would certainly cause the
engine to quit. This will be investigated further, but it certainly is something to think
about. If you have your mag switches installed in your rollover structure, insulate the
back of the switches or install a cover over them to prevent anything from coming in
contact with the bare terminals.