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Final Report; RV-4, N479JJ

Sam Buchanan

been here awhile
Report PDF:




Summary (see PDF for full report):

The pilot departed the airport for a cross country flight. Shortly after departure, radar services
were terminated by air traffic control and the pilot was cleared for a radio frequency change.
Seventeen minutes later, radar contact was lost. Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast
data obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration revealed the airplane climbed to about
2,500 ft mean sea level and made a few turns to the north and northeast before heading
northwest. The airplane began to lose groundspeed, turned to the left and descended, then
gained groundspeed as it continued to descend. The last data track showed the airplane at
650 ft and a groundspeed of 172 knots.
A witness was outside at his house when the canopy from the airplane fell in his yard. The
canopy was about 1.5 miles away from the main wreckage. The accident site was in a wooded
area and the wreckage path was about 550 ft long. The airplane was heavily fragmented and
scattered along a debris path. The canopy handle was found in the open position with the
looking pin damaged and bent at its tip. It is likely that the canopy was not locked correctly
before takeoff and that it opened in flight and departed the airplane. The airplane then made a
gradual slow left descending turn and continued to gain airspeed until it contacted trees and
the ground at a high rate of speed. Based on the available evidence, it could not be determined
if the canopy contacted and incapacitated the pilot when it separated from the airplane, which
then resulted in a loss of control.

Probable Cause

The pilot’s failure to properly secure the canopy before takeoff, allowing the canopy to open
and then separate in flight, which resulted in the pilot’s failure to maintain control of the
airplane for reasons that could not be determined based on the available evidence.
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