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N6628K accident description

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Crash location 36.625834°N, 93.228889°W
Nearest city Branson, MO
36.653951°N, 93.250182°W
2.3 miles away
Tail number N6628K
Accident date 22 Sep 2006
Aircraft type Windler Tri Q2
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On September 22, 2006, about 0910 central daylight time, an amateur-built Windler Tri Q2, N6628K, piloted by a private pilot, was destroyed during an in-flight collision with trees and terrain near Branson, Missouri. The personal flight was being conducted under 14 CFR Part 91 without a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed near the accident site. The pilot was fatally injured. The local flight departed the M. Graham Clark - Taney County Airport (PLK), Point Lookout, Missouri, about 0845. The intended destination was Kansas City International Airport (MCI), Kansas City, Missouri.

A witness hiking in the area at the time of the accident reported that she saw the airplane about 1/4 mile from her position, approximately 100 feet above the trees. She stated the airplane appeared to be losing altitude as if "coming in to land." She reported that something appeared to separate and fall from the airplane. She subsequently lost sight of the airplane behind a tree line.

Another witness reported that he noticed the airplane eastbound in level flight. However, as he watched, the airplane banked to the right, "winged over," and began a clockwise descending spiral. He lost sight of it behind trees prior to impact.

The amateur-built Windler Tri Q2 airplane was a single-engine, two-place design. The Tri Q2 incorporated a fixed tricycle landing gear arrangement, instead of a conventional tailwheel arrangement as in the original Q2 design. The airplane featured a canard, in lieu of a conventional horizontal stabilizer. The main wing was placed aft of the cockpit.

The accident site was located about 4 nautical miles northwest of PLK, in Henning State Park Conservation Area near Branson, Missouri. The site was located in a wooded area. Breaks in the tree limbs near the site were consistent with the airplane descending at a steep angle prior to impact. The airplane was fragmented. Intact portions of the wings exhibited leading edge crushing damage. The left and right ailerons, and the left elevator had separated from the airframe at the accident site. The rudder remained attached to the vertical stabilizer. However, the vertical stabilizer had separated from the airframe at the accident site.

The right elevator was not located with the main wreckage. It was subsequently located approximately 1,250 feet northwest of the main wreckage. The elevator was retained by the NTSB for examination.

The 85-horsepower Continental C85 engine was examined and partially disassembled. No anomalies consistent with a pre impact engine failure were observed.

The right elevator was examined by the NTSB materials laboratory. The examination revealed the elevator had separated from the outboard hinge. The mid span hinge stud was fractured. In addition, the torque tube was fractured at the mid span hinge cutout and at the inboard end of the elevator.

The mid span hinge stud was contained in the center of the pivot. A portion of the fracture surface at the upper aft side of the stud was relatively flat and discolored with a smooth boundary; features consistent with fatigue. The fracture surface exhibited ratchet marks, small steps in the surface formed when adjacent fatigue cracks originate on slightly offset planes, which is consistent with fatigue originating from multiple origins. The fatigue failure initiated from several locations at a thread root. The thread surfaces adjacent to the fracture surface exhibited pitting consistent with corrosion.

The upper elevator skin was buckled at the mid span hinge. The torque tube was fractured at the mid span hinge, at the inboard edge of the hinge cutout in the torque tube. The upper side of the torque tube was displaced upward, particularly at the inboard end of the cutout adjacent to the fracture. Appearance of the fracture surfaces was consistent with an overstress failure. In addition, the cutout of the torque tube at the mid span hinge support extended around approximately 120 degrees at the forward side of the tube. According to the aircraft construction plans, the cutout for the hinge was shown to be approximately 80 degrees.

The fracture of the torque tube at the inboard end of the elevator was nearly circumferential at the aft side of the tube. The fracture surface was on slant planes and exhibited deformation adjacent to the fracture consistent with overstress fracture.

NTSB Probable Cause

Fatigue failure, originating in an area of surface corrosion, of the right elevator mid span hinge pin and the subsequent failure of the elevator torque tube. Additional causes are the separation of the elevator from the airframe due to the hinge pin and torque tube failures, and the pilot's inability to maintain control of the airplane after separation of the control surface.

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