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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 196556
Last updated: 25 February 2020
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Type:Silhouette image of generic MOR2 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Varga 2150A Kachina
Registration: N917JL
C/n / msn: SP-26
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:near Cherry Ridge Airport (N30), Honesdale, PA -   United States of America
Phase: Take off
Departure airport:Honesdale, PA (N30)
Destination airport:Honesdale, PA (N30)
Investigating agency: NTSB
The private pilot was taking off in day, visual meteorological conditions. According to a witness who was both a pilot and a mechanic, the airplane took off and sounded "normal" and returned for landing. After touchdown, the airplane continued for a touch-and-go landing but the engine, "fumbledů faltered drastically for 3 or 4 seconds" before the pilot aborted the takeoff, taxied back to the beginning of the runway, and took off again. During that takeoff, the witness heard the engine "miss" and heard further power interruptions before his attention was diverted from the airplane. The witness did not see the accident. Airport surveillance video depicted the airplane on its takeoff roll, followed by an initial climb and a left turn in the vicinity of the crosswind leg of the airport traffic pattern. The airplane then entered a shallow descent and a shallow bank angle as it descended from view behind trees.

Examination of the airplane at the accident site revealed no fuel odor and no evidence of fuel spillage at the scene. Three ounces of fuel were recovered from the airplane. Detailed examination of the airframe and engine revealed no preimpact mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation; however, locking pliers were substituted for the trim actuator handle, and a bird's nest was found in the engine. In addition, the lap belt and shoulder harnesses were not buckled, and the shoulder harnesses were stowed behind the seat, the lap belts were stowed to either side of the seat pan, and the mold growth, dirt, and corrosion visible on the belts, buckle, and male tabs suggested they had not been used for an extended period of time. Examination of airplane records revealed that the airplane's most recent annual inspection was 5 years before the accident.

Whether the pilot confirmed the amount of fuel onboard before departure could not be determined, but his failure to appropriately address the "faltering" engine before attempting another takeoff reflects poor hazard recognition and impaired decision making. Given the lack of fuel found onboard after the accident, the loss of engine power was likely the result of fuel exhaustion.

Additionally, toxicology testing of the pilot identified the use of butalbital (a barbiturate) and marijuana, both of which can affect decision-making. Thus, it is likely that the effects from the pilot's use of two psychoactive substances contributed to his decision to conduct the takeoff after observing an engine anomaly. Because the pilot was over 40 years old, his medical certificate expired 2 years after issuance; thus it was not valid at the time of the accident.

Probable Cause: A total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's use of two psychoactive substances, which led to his impaired decision to attempt to takeoff after engine issues became evident.



FAA register:

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year
Download report: Final report


Photo: NTSB

Revision history:

07-Jul-2017 02:36 Geno Added
08-Jul-2017 14:41 harro Updated [Aircraft type]
22-Jul-2018 18:50 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Operator, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
22-Jul-2018 19:50 harro Updated [Source, Narrative, Photo, ]

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