airfield landing. It’s been a long day, and I wanted to get this out
there before the FAA notice was posted.
I have several theories at this point as to what happened, and I’ll go
through each one trying to identify the smoking gun.
First, the flight. Approximately 12:30 pm with a 5 knot southern wind,
I prepared for takeoff. Some people think I am a bit cautious, and
maybe so in many cases, but today was a good day to be cautious. I had
the local fire department notified, and they were standing by. Pretty
nice folks, and I think they liked having something interesting to do.
Dean Norris with a sharp eyed passenger took off in his Velocity to fly
chase. I had maps made, and distributed to everyone with big letters to
help direct ground crews in a bad event. Dean took off, and I waited
for him to get on downwind before starting my roll. Previous to today,
I had been doing a bit of fast taxiing, and nothing abnormal ever showed
up. I rotated several times during fast taxi tests at about 65mph.
Today, as I accelerated through 70, I remember thinking how odd it was
that I had not yet rotated, but this was the first time under power.
Rotation speed is lower without the power vector pushing the nose down.
I accelerated, and lifted off about 75kts. The plan was to climb to
1000’AGL at 90kts. I reached my 90kts very quickly, and kept pulling
nose up a little bit more. Man, there was a lot of power. The plane
flew straight. No major stick forces that I can recall. I reached
about 900 feet, and the engine began losing power. I immediately turned
crosswind to downwind. I wish I could say I was maintaining optimal
airspeed, but I don’t recall any airspeeds after that point, and looking
back would have been the absolute best thing to maintain. I pulled out
some throttle, and regained some engine power, but not enough to arrest
the descent. I was still on downwind, and picked out a field north of
the field to put down in. Then I changed my mind. With the bit of
power I had, I decided to turn south into the find to reduce my ground
speed. I picked out a field, and turned to it. I ended up about 600
yards north from the end of the runway facing south.
I will remember this day forever, and will play back the choices into
The plane contacted ground, and came to a stop within 47 yards. I
stepped it off. The ground was quite soft. The gear all had been
sheared off. The right tip of the canard dug into the ground, and when
it did, caused compression crumpling on the right side of the fuselage.
Next, the plane wanted to move left, and that’s when the main gear
really dug in and sheared off, which was quite a jolt.
Nothing broken for me except my ego. I literally have a minor scratch
on my left hand, that’s all. Amazing. I’m not even sore … yet.
Going back to the causes, I have a few theories that need to be
researched. As I taxied over to the fuel pumps, I saw the low fuel
light was on. After taking on five gallons each side, I noticed the
warning light had turned off. When the engine lost power after takeoff,
the light was on. However, I’m not sure fuel starvation is the reason
for the power failure. There’s 4.9 gallons in that sump. That’s a lot
of time, and there is no way I could have emptied it. The other theory
is that I was running too rich. The electronic injection system was
tuned out to 2250 RPM’s, because that’s the limit I could do in ground
testing. I then extrapolated out to 3000 RPM’s (red line at 2800), and
then richened up the whole table to be on the safe side. One thing I
wish I had done during high power testing was to see how much more rich
I could go before killing the engine. I pulled the spark plugs, and the
plugs closest to the firewall were very sooty. The other four plugs
looked very good.
After 12 years of building, it looks like I have a little bit more to
go. The belly of the plane looks good. The compression buckling
worries me as to how I will fix that. The wings are also showing
compression buckling just outboard of the spar attach bolts.
Posted By: Brett FerrellSunday March 29th, 2009 at 8:04 PM
Categories: Accidents Tags: 2009 Cedar Park FT Michalk N4PE Non-Fatal SE TX Velocity