The pilot of a homemade airplane that crashed in Carrabelle two years ago was a ‘known risk taker,” whose engine died on a fatal test flight, according to a National Transportation Safety Board factual crash report released last week.
The five-page report found that the Sonex Trainer plane piloted by 68-year-old Gregory Newman experienced engine failure as he tried to take off from the Carrabelle Airport in Feb. 2018.
A witness described how Newman had recently worked on the engine and was trying to test it when the crash occurred. The witness told investigators that as the craft was halfway down the runway, the engine lost power.
“The witness looked up and saw the airplane about 100 feet above the runway,” NTSB investigators wrote. “Instead of landing on the remaining runway, the pilot made an ‘aggressive bank’ to the left and the airplane stalled and descended ‘straight down’ toward the ground.”
The single-seat plane crashed in a swamp along Coastal Highway 98.
The witness described Newman as a risk taker who often tinkered with his airplane but did not keep detailed maintenance or work records. The witness said the pilot had purchased the airplane almost completely built, about two years before the accident. Newman finished building the airplane, equipped with a Volkswagen engine, that the witness said had presented "constant" problems, the current engine the second one Newman had installed.
The witness thought Newman had recently replaced some gaskets and wanted to see how the engine was working.
A toxicology report found Newman had traces of Ambien, a sleep aid, and Benadryl, an antihistamine, in his system at the time of the crash, the latter of which it said could be impairing.
He had 571 hours of flight time and was current on his Federal Aviation Administration pilot certification. He did not file a flight plan.
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