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Dr. Doug Pohl's Tragic Accident



On July 07, 2008, at 1755 eastern daylight time, an experimental, amateur built, Douglas A. Pohl Lancair IV-P, N488SD, crashed after a loss of engine power at the North Perry Airport (HWO), Hollywood, Florida. The pilot was killed and the airplane incurred substantial damage. The flight was operated by the private pilot, under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed.

Witnesses stated to the responding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, they observed the airplane depart from runway 9R. The airplane rotated at an estimated 2,100 feet (ft) down the runway. The landing gear retracted when it was about 50 ft above ground level (agl). When the airplane was at an estimated altitude of 150 ft agl, and past the departure end of the runway, there was an interruption of engine power. One witness stated it sounded like an 18-wheeler down shifting, while another witness stated it lost power completely. Immediately following the power interruption, the airplane was observed to make a left turn. It continued the turn and increased in bank angle. The airplane stalled when it reached about 80 degrees of bank, as it was going through a north heading. The airplane went straight down and impacted the ground nose first in a left spiral, adjacent to a tennis court located on the perimeter of the airport. The airplane came to rest on a 20-foot-tall tennis court fence. A fire ensued moments later, which consumed sections of the airplane, before the fire department was able to extinguish it.


The pilot, age 57, held a private pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. He was issued a third-class medical certificate in December 2006, with a limitation of must wear corrective lenses. The pilot documented a total of 875 flight hours in all aircraft at the time of the medical. He also held a repairman experimental aircraft builder certificate and an inspection certificate for an experimental airplane make Pohl Lancair model IV-P, serial number LIV-008, as of July 09, 2001. A review of the pilot’s flight logbooks revealed that the pilot had a total of 1,255 hours total time.


The airplane was an experimental, amateur-built airplane, serial number LIV-008, and issued an experimental airworthiness certificate, normal category, on July 09, 2001. The airplane was certified in accordance with Title 14 of CFR Part 23 airworthiness standards. A review of the airplane's maintenance records revealed that the airplane was under an annual condition / 100 hour aircraft inspection program. The last annual condition / 100 hour inspection was performed on August 15, 2007, at a total airframe time of 378 hours. The engine was a Silver Wing Aviation, Inc, AV8-470, liquid cooled, with an EPI Mark-9 PSRU gearbox driving the three-blade propeller assembly. The total time recorded on the engine at the last 100-hour inspection was 378 hours. Examination of the provided maintenance records revealed no unresolved maintenance discrepancies against the airplane prior to departure.


The HWO weather observation at 1753, recorded in part: winds 100 degrees at 11 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition clear; temperature 31 degrees Celsius (C); dew point 23 degrees C; altimeter 30.07 inches of mercury.


At 1752, the pilot contacted the HWO ground controller requesting taxi instructions for departure and was issued taxi instructions to runway 9 right. At 1754, the pilot contacted the HWO tower controller to advise he was ready for takeoff. The tower controller cleared him for takeoff on runway 9 right, which the pilot acknowledged. There was no additional communication.


The HWO airport has four operating runways, supporting north, south, west, and east operations. The airport is adjacent to residential homes and businesses. Runway 9 at the HWO is a published 3,255-foot-long by 100-foot-wide, asphalt, runway.


The airplane came to rest on a 180-degree magnetic heading. The front section of the airplane impacted the ground surface, separating the engine nacelle section from the fuselage. The forward cockpit area was ripped open. The fuselage, and attached wings, came to rest adjacent and partially on the tennis court’s 20 foot tall fence. The empennage section separated and remained partially attached to the fuselage, resting on the fence. A post-impact fire consumed sections of the right wing, sections of the right side of the fuselage cabin area, and the cabin crown section.

An airframe and engine examination was conducted by an airframe and powerplant certificated mechanic, with FAA oversight. No evidence of pre-impact failure or malfunction was observed with the airplane’s flight controls that would have prevented normal operation. Examination of the engine, and its accessories, and remnants did not provide any evidence for the loss of power.

The inner quill shaft in the gearbox was observed fractured. The shaft assembly was sent to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for a metallurgical examination of the fractured surface. The examination revealed the fracture was from overload; a result from the impact sequence in the accident.


A postmortem examination of the pilot was conducted under the authority of the Florida State Medical Examiner, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on July 8, 2008. The cause of death for the pilot was attributed to multiple blunt force injuries.

The FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) conducted toxicological testing on specimens from the pilot. The tests were negative for alcohol. Desmethylsertraline and Sertraline were detected in the blood and liver.

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