Witnesses Reported “He Got Low” On Final Approach And Clipped Trees

Location: Rogersville, TN Accident Number: ERA20LA183
Date & Time: 05/15/2020, 1410 EDT Registration: N3956H
Aircraft: Ercoupe 415 Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation – Personal

On May 15, 2020, about 1410 eastern daylight time, an Ercoupe 415-CD airplane, N3956H, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Rogersville, Tennessee. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate for single-engine airplanes, and an airframe and powerplant mechanic certificate with inspection authorization. He had departed from Hawkins County Airport (RVN), Rogersville, Tennessee, at 1350. According to witnesses the pilot flew over a friend’s farm and was returning to the airport. They stated that the airplane’s engine sounded normal and multiple witnesses reported “he got low” on final approach and clipped trees. The pilot did not make any distress call on the radio.

The airplane impacted in the front yard of a residential property about 1,000 ft from the threshold of runway 25, at an elevation of 1,214 ft mean sea level (msl). The wreckage debris path was about 20 ft long and oriented on a magnetic heading of 240°. The grass surrounding the wreckage path displayed fuel blight.

Ground scars at the accident site and damage to the airplane were consistent with the airplane impacting terrain in a nose-low, left wing-low attitude. A postimpact fire consumed most of the wreckage; however, all major structural components of the airplane were located within the debris field.

Flight control continuity was verified from the cockpit to all primary flight control surfaces. No crankcase anomalies were noted; oil was observed draining from the engine. One of the propeller blades was not bent, the other had torsional twisting from midspan to the tip. Although the postaccident examination was limited due to postimpact fire damage, a initial examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of preaccident mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

The wreckage was retained for further examination.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov