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N97MS accident description

West Virginia map... West Virginia list
Crash location 39.485277°N, 79.685277°W
Nearest city Kingwood, WV
39.471756°N, 79.683388°W
0.9 miles away
Tail number N97MS
Accident date 03 Dec 2000
Aircraft type Miller SLINGSHOT
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On December 3, 2000, about 1430 eastern standard time, a homebuilt Slingshot, N97MS, was substantially damaged when it collided with trees near Kingwood, West Virginia. The certificated private pilot/owner was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The airplane departed Valley Point Airport (WV29), Valley Point, West Virginia, on December 3, 2000, about 1400, and was reported missing later that day. An ALNOT was issued, and the airplane was located on December 5, 2000, by the West Virginia State Police. The airplane was found in a mountainous, heavily wooded area about 7 miles south of WV29, at 39 degrees, 29.7 minutes north latitude, 79 degrees, 41.7 minutes west longitude.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land. He reported 1,000 hours of total flight experience on his most recent FAA third class medical, issued on May 7, 1999.

Examination of the pilot's logbook revealed four entries, which described his flight experience in the accident airplane. The first entry stated that 26.5 flight hours were accumulated from February 15, 1995 to January 23, 1998. The second entry noted 23.5 hours of flight time from February 15, 1998 to May 5, 1998, with a note that stated, "3 takeoffs and landings." The third entry was dated from May 5, 1998 to August 5, 1998 and listed 60 hours of flight time, with an entry stating, "20 or more takeoffs and landings." The final entry made in reference to the accident airplane noted 15 flight hours accumulated during the period from August 6, 1998 to December 30, 1998.


The airplane was built by the pilot, and certificated for flight on January 30, 1998. Examination of the airplane's logbook revealed that it had completed ten flights between January 30, 1998 and April 20, 1998, and accumulated 40 flight hours. The final entries in the logbook indicated annual condition inspections were performed on January 10, 1999 and January 15, 2000.


The weather reported at Valley Point Airport, at 1453, included clear skies, visibility 10 miles, wind from 020 degrees at 5 knots, temp 32 degrees Celsius, and dew point 13 degrees Celsius.


Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that all major components were accounted for at the accident scene. The airplane came to rest on an easterly heading, on the bank of a ravine, about 300 yards from a logging trail. Impact scars were noted in the tops of 75-foot trees located 25 yards from the wreckage.

The airplane came to rest partially inverted. The nose and the cockpit were upright and compacted at the base of a tree. The rear portion of the fuselage was folded upward 160 degrees, and was inverted above the cockpit area. The right wing was disconnected from the fuselage and located beneath the airplane; the left wing was still attached to the airplane and displayed impact damage. The fabric covering both wings was torn off. Control continuity was confirmed from the control column to all control surfaces.

The engine came to rest upside down on top of the airplane, still attached to rear portion of the fuselage. Little to no damage was observed to the four-stroke, four-cylinder Rotax engine. The spark plugs were removed and were light gray in color. The crankshaft turned freely, and thumb compression was obtained in all four cylinders. Both carburetors were loose, and both carburetor fuel bowls were removed and full of auto gas. The auto gas contained no visible contamination. Auto gas was observed in both fuel lines to the carburetors, and cable continuity was observed from the throttle to the carburetors. The slide valves and butterfly valves in the carburetors moved freely. The radiator, which was located forward of the engine, appeared clean and displayed no damage. The exhaust system was intact and also exhibited no damage.

The propeller remained attached to the engine and was intact. Two of the three propeller blades displayed no damage, and one blade displayed impact damage.

The altimeter and airspeed indicator were recovered from the cockpit, and indicated 3,220 feet and 75 mph respectively. The fuel selector was selected to the "on" position and the ignition switch was also "on."

The pilot's GPS was found in the airplane and was operational. It was retained for further examination.


The engine was removed from the airplane and sent to a Rotax test facility in Sebring, Florida. The engine was examined on May 15, 2001, under the supervision of the FAA. The examination revealed that the engine started through the normal start sequence, and ran continuously for several minutes. The throttle was advanced to 3,000 rpm to check both ignitions, and a 200-rpm drop was noted. This amount was in accordance with the current operators manual. The throttle was then advanced to full power, and the engine ran smoothly for approximately 4 minutes. The throttle was reduced to idle and then moved to the full forward position, to simulate a "go around" maneuver. The engine accelerated smoothly, and without hesitation. The maneuver was simulated several times and no malfunctions were noted.

The information from the pilot's GPS was downloaded and examined. The information revealed that the airplane departed Valley Point Airport, and flew southwest in a relatively straight line to the accident site. The last eight 'track points' indicated that the airplane initiated a gradual left turn from a heading of 272 degrees to 111 degrees. As the airplane continued the turn, the altitude decreased from 626 feet to 383 feet. At the same time, the airspeed decreased from 86 mph to 52.2 mph.


An autopsy was conducted on the pilot by the Chief Medical Examiner, in Charleston, West Virginia.

Toxicological testing was performed on the pilot by the Toxicological and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain control of the airplane, and subsequent collision with trees.

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