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NTSB Final Report: Martin Richard B Sonex

The Airplane Came To Rest Inverted. Trees In The Immediate Vicinity Were Up To About 100 Ft Tall.

Location: Dowagiac, MI Accident Number: CEN23FA410
Date & Time: September 10, 2023, 12:00 Local Registration: N569SX
Aircraft: Martin Richard B Sonex Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On September 10, 2023 about 1200 eastern daylight time, an experimental Sonex airplane, N569SX, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Dowagiac, Michigan. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot departed Dowagiac Municipal Airport (C91), Dowagiac, Michigan, about 1100, for a local area flight. An alert notice (ALNOT) was issued at 2021 when the pilot had not returned. The accident site was located on September 14th in a heavily wooded area about 4 miles northnortheast of C91. There were no known witnesses to the accident. (Note: The accident time was estimated based on the departure time and nominal fuel consumption.)

The airplane came to rest inverted. Trees in the immediate vicinity were up to about 100 ft tall. Fresh tree breaks and a downed tree were located about 30 ft north and 25 ft northwest of the wreckage, respectively.

The aft fuselage was crushed and resting on a fallen tree. Both wings exhibited leading-edge crushing damage consistent with impact to the trees and terrain. The empennage was damaged consistent with impact forces. The flight control surfaces remained attached to the airframe, and control continuity was confirmed to the cockpit controls.

The engine appeared intact and undamaged with exception of minor impact damage to the air filter/intake assembly. The propeller was secured to the engine; however, both blades were damaged consistent with impact. The fuel tank was intact and contained about 10 gallons. The remaining fluid in the tank exhibited a blue tint and appeared consistent with 100 low lead aviation fuel. The fluid was clear and free of sediment.

A postrecovery engine examination revealed the ignition distributor rotor was fractured and separated from the drive shaft. The housing was intact and each ignition harness lead secure and undamaged. The engine examination was otherwise unremarkable. A new distributor housing and rotor were installed, and an engine test run conducted. The engine subsequently started and ran normally at idle power.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, no automatic dependent broadcast – surveillance (ADS-B) data associated with  the airplane was available. At the time of the onscene examination, the transponder was observed in the OFF position. The airplane was equipped with an emergency locator transmitter (ELT). However, the ELT unit was separated from its mounting cradle, and the antenna cable was separated at the coaxial cable connector common to the unit. The remaining portion of the cable and the airframe mounted antenna appeared intact. The ELT switch was in the OFF position when initially observed by NTSB investigators at the accident site. During the postrecovery examination, the ELT was activated momentarily. The associated transmission was heard on an adjacent handheld transceiver tuned to 121.5 MHz.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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