The CP newsletter reports accidents and discusses their conditions and causes for Information purposes for all operators. We have always investigated accidents In the interest of determining information that we can disseminate to you, the builders, to help prevent reoccurrence. It should be recognized in our discussion of accident conditions or causes that generally this information is preliminary, since It is published before the availability of the FAA or NTSB accident report. A Florida LongEZ was substantially damaged when it struck two power lines while flying level at approximately 140 knots, between two islands.
The lower power line removed the main gear entirely, including the attach fittings, some lower fuselage structure and some of the prop. The upper power line cut the upper left winglet off just above the standard rudder. This piece was recovered by fishermen and measured 37" at the leading edge and 27" at the trailing edge. The pilot reported that the impact felt like light turbulence!! The aircraft was put into an immediate climb. The pilot managed to fly at 600 feet using nearly full right aileron and full right rudder, for a distance of 4 miles over saw grass and trees to a power plant.
A 1500 foot strip of rock and dirt was chosen (all that was available) and a normal off field landing was executed. The pilot was not aware that the main gear had been torn off, so he put down the nose gear and speed brake. The Long-EZ was damaged in the crash landing, but both people on board suffered only bruising from the seat belts and shoulder harnesses. The aircraft was losing altitude and thrust even though the engine was developing good power, due to prop damage. The pilot did a really excellent job in keeping his cool and flying the airplane, A Connecticut Long-EZ with only 9 hours since new landed short of the runway due to running out of gas and was substantially damaged. With the pilot/builders permission we are printing his report below in the hope that a problem like this can be avoided in the future by other EZ pilots.
"Don Eckbert and I (Richard Marr built LongEl N49EZ over a three year period. It flew for the first time in early March of this year at the hands of Norman Rossignol, a 350 hour VariEze pilot. The plane had about 9 hours on it when I took it up on the morning of March 19. After about 90 minutes of flight, I noted that the gas in my right tank was getting low. I decided to do a little more sight seeing before heading toward WaterburyOxford Airport for a refill.
I did not switch to the left tank, reasoning that I should have the airport in sight before doing so, in case I had a water problem. When I did head for the airport. I forgot about my mental note to switch tanks. As I turned base, the engine quit. I immediately switched tanks but the engine did not restart. The prop had stopped windmilling. We do not have electric start, and I was too low to gain the necessary airspeed to windmill it. I was also too low to make it to runway 36. I hit the slope leading to the runway. The impact destroyed the nose, removed the main landing gear, broke the engine oil pan, prop, carb etc.
I got a broken sternum and a squashed vertebra. I had made two pilot errors. I forgot to manage my fuel and I flew the pattern too low. Another ten feet of altitude and I would have made it to the grassy area in front of the runway without incident. In all other ways, the Long-El is an incredible design. I believe the impact absorbing nature of the composite saved my life. I would not have walked away if it were a conventional aluminum two seater. The plane is insured so that repair money will not be a problem. My Injuries are healing rapidly. My biggest regret Is that my partner Don, had little more than an hour in it before the accident. A few years from now (after a Defiant) he will look back on this and laugh. For now, he is contemplating murder. Thanks again for an incredible design. Richard Marr"
HOT DOGGING EZs - Is the Thrill Worth It?
We have received comments and complaints about pilots flying their EZs at low altitude, over beaches, over ski slopes etc. LISTEN UP GUYS!! It may be fun to buzz when you are in your EZ. You really do feel like you have the world by the tail and nothing can happen to you. No denying it, any airplane that is this small, maneuverable and responsive, will tend to build your confidence. The LongEZs flying qualities give the pilot the sense that he is "a part of the airplane" and that he can make the combination fit into the smallest areas with ease. The thrill of this capability has made many of us do dangerous flying.
This must stop. The majority of El builder/flyers fly by the rules but some of you are putting us all in jeopardy. We recently reviewed the data and have found that In seven of the eleven LongEl accidents, buzzing was either the primary cause, (like the Florida one discussed in this CP) or a contributing cause. In general, the offender is the one with the loss, but If an EZ is involved in an accident on a crowded beach or ski slope, we are all out of business, no more experimental aircraft flying