Airplane Struck A Tree Prior To Impacting The Ground

Location: Southington, OH Accident Number: ERA23FA046
Date & Time: October 28, 2022, 12:43 Local Registration: N820RC
Aircraft: Zenith CH750 Cruzer Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On October 28, 2022, at 1243 eastern daylight time, an experimental, amateur-built Zenith CH 750 Cruzer, N820RC, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Southington, Ohio. The sport pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. According to a witness, he talked to the pilot prior to departure from Warren Airport (62D), Southington, Ohio, and asked “how the airplane was doing.” The pilot reported that the airplane was working “fine,” and that he intended to fly in the local area that day. Then, since the witness was going flying as well, he taxied behind the accident airplane. He watched the pilot perform an engine run-up, and the airplane take off from runway 22, with no anomalies noted, around 1130. The airplane turned left into the airport traffic pattern and the witness departed the airport for his flight.

According to the airport manager, the pilot usually departed on runway 4/22, which was asphalt, and then landed on runway 18/36, which was turf. Both runways were left traffic patterns.

The airplane came to rest in a residential yard across the street from 62D property. All major components of the airplane were located in the vicinity of the main wreckage and an odor similar to gasoline was noted at the accident site. The airplane struck a tree prior to impacting the ground and parts of the windscreen were scattered along a 239° heading. The fuselage with the empennage attached remained intact. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the controls in the cockpit to the elevator and rudder. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the control stick in the cockpit to the right flaperon, and from the control in the cockpit to the base of the left wing. The control rod from the base of the left wing was stripped from the connection point, however, there were impact marks on the fuselage consistent with the flaperon contacting the fuselage during the impact sequence. Furthermore, the contact signatures from the flaperons on both sides of the fuselage were similar. The wings were separated from the fuselage by first responders. The flaperons remained attached to their respective wings. The leading edge of the right wing was dented. The leading edge of the left wing had semicircular impact damage with tree bark lodged in the impact area.

The engine remained attached to the airframe. The propeller was manually rotated through 360° of motion and crankshaft and valvetrain continuity were confirmed. Thumb compression was noted on all cylinders. The cylinders were examined by a lighted borescope, and no anomalies were noted. Both magnetos remained attached to the accessory section of the engine. Each were manually rotated by hand and produced spark on all towers. Magneto timing was checked, and no anomalies were noted. The carburetor was removed, disassembled, and no anomalies were noted. Fuel was noted in the carburetor bowl and gascolator. The oil pressure and suction screens were removed, examined, and were not obstructed.

The propeller hub remained attached to the crankshaft. One propeller blade remained attached to the hub and the other blade was impact separated and located in the vicinity of the main wreckage. Both propeller blades exhibited light chordwise scratching. The instrument panel contained a GRT Engine Data Monitoring system that was retained for data download.