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Sun, Oct 21, 2007

NTSB Says Speed Brake May Have Contributed To VA VariEze Accident

Also Found Faults With Control Cables

The National Transportation Safety Board released its Preliminary Report last week on the fatal October 3 crash of a homebuilt VariEze, that claimed the life of its pilot.

Jefrey Arnold, of Suffolk died when his aircraft (type shown above) clipped a barbed wire fence, and the nose of the plane hit the dirt in a field near Chesapeake Regional Airport (CPK), according to WKTR-3.

The NTSB said improper use of the speed brake might have contributed to the crash. Investigators also noticed some problems with control cables, noting "some cables revealed flat spots, chafing kinks, and looped strands."

Arnold bought the experimental homebuilt a few years ago, and recently had it inspected, according to the station. His girlfriend, Georgia Devers, told investigators Arnold intended to test the aircraft's speed brake on the accident flight.

"She quoted the pilot as saying that during the first hour he owned the airplane, he "tried the speed brake, and it scared the [expletive] out of him,'" the NTSB states. "He said, 'Now that I have 70 hours in the airplane, I'm going to try it again.'"

Witness Carol Hoskins was driving on Route 17 at the time, and saw the plane crash into a cornfield. She stopped and ran over to the crash site to help the pilot, but Arnold was already dead.

"I saw him going down, but I didn't think he was going to hit... I thought he was going to come back up... but then when I looked over and still he was still going low I knew something was going to happen and that was a shock," said Hoskins.

A flight instructor told the Board he and a student joined the traffic pattern in their airplane, and heard the accident airplane announce takeoff and the subsequent legs of the traffic pattern, before he heard "panicked" cries for help over the radio.

No further transmissions were heard from the accident airplane.

FMI: Read The NTSB Preliminary Report

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