| Home | Articles | CP reprints |

ACCIDENTS
From CP49, Page 4 (July, 1986)

     A Long-EZ in Illinois landed in a row of trees after the engine quit. The pilot was on a 112 mile final at 300 feet at idle power due to another plane in front of him. When he added power, the engine quit. Two attempts were made to start the engine using the electric starter, to no avail . He hit a small electric wire, then landed in a row of trees planted as a wind break. The canard broke on both sides, the right wing broke at 1/2 span, the left wing was damaged near the strake. The main gear was still attached but bent aft. The left wheel/axle was sheared off breaking all four bolts. The pilot received a small cut on his hand and that was all. No cause for the engine quitting has been determined. The first thing that comes to mind, of course, is the engine idle speed. This may or may not have had anything to do with this accident, but we have seen airplanes set up with such low idle speeds that they do have a tendency to quit on short final. However, that is normally an occurrence in the flare where it is only an annoyance as far as taxiing after the landing. An excessively high idle RPM is not satisfactory in that it makes it tough to land an airplane with the L/D of a Long-EZ. In general, if your engine will idle OK on the ground, it will idle-even easier at approach due to inflow assisting the propeller.
     These values are probably incorrect as a Long-EZ can easily glide 1/2 mile from 300 feet while decelerating 10 knots.
------------------------------------------------------
     A Northern Nevada VariViggen was involved in a first flight, take-off accident. The airplane was demolished but the pilot suffered only minor cuts and bruises. Unfortunately, this accident could easily have been avoided. The pilot had no current medical or biennial, nor had he flown at all in the past 3 years. He did not inform the FAA of his intention to fly and he attempted to take-off on an uphill runway with a tail wind.
------------------------------------------------------
     A California VariEze crashed on final approach. The pilot was seriously injured and the airplane was badly damaged. His approach was at a busy fly-in with a lot of airplanes on final. He got down too low and far too slow. Eyewitnesses saw the airplane very low with wing rock. The airplane caught a wing on the approach light system, 800 feet short of the runway and 15 feet above the ground. The airplane cart-wheeled and hit upside down and slid to a stop 300 feet short of the runway. The moral here is "never be too proud to execute a go-around, no matter how much pressure there is to land."
------------------------------------------------------
     A Long-EZ on its first flight after installing a newly overhauled engine suffered an in-flight engine fire and was unable to make it back to the runway. The engine quit on approach and the pilot attempted to land in a housing tract. There was not enough room and he rolled into a car, which also burst into flames. He landed under control, thus, in-flight structural failure or control failure are not suspect. Sadly, the pilot was killed by fire. The fire was so intense in the engine/cowling area that the FAA accident investigator was unable to determine what could have started the fire. The fuel pumps, carburetor, etc., were consumed. The airplane had been airborne for only a few minutes. Reportedly, the engine was an 0-320 and he was using auto fuel. We may never know what caused the fire, but it is easy to overlook a loose fitting - we have done it ourselves. A fuel leak, particularly auto fuel, could be ignited by hot exhaust or any number of things. Always try to have at least one other person go over your work, especially engine related work like plumbing or control systems. The more pairs of eyes that look at your engine installation, the better chance that you will catch some overlooked items. This is specifically important if you are developing new, unapproved installations.
     Never, ever, cowl an engine that has been worked on without a brief engine run to check for leaks. We, here at RAF, have more than once found fairly drastic leaks during the leak-check engine run.