McElroy taxied the aircraft to the runway and then
handed the controls to Erik for takeoff. Erik provided
full throttle and the aircraft began its roll down the
runway. However, the aircraft’s acceleration was slow.
At 65 MPH Erik pulled back on the yoke but he could not
get the aircraft off the ground, running out of runway
he handed the controls over to McElroy who continued
with the takeoff.
As McElroy continued the
takeoff, at the same time another pilot announced over
the airport’s common traffic advisory frequency, “Tobago
on takeoff, check your carburetor heat.” McElroy and
Erik looked and confirmed that the throttle, mixture,
propeller, and carburetor heat controls were all in the
“full forward” position.
The aircraft used almost the entire length of the
4,000-foot-long runway before it climb to about 150
feet, still in ground effect the aircraft stalled, and
then crashed into a residential neighborhood. The
aircraft came to rest upside down. The aircraft burst
into flames, Erik and his wife were ejected from the
aircraft, and McElroy remained seat belted in the
aircraft. Jane Unhjem and McElroy died, Erik suffered
burns over 60 percent of his body.
According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured
in 1991 and was issued a ferry permit on June 20, 2012,
in order to relocate the airplane and perform an annual
inspection and other maintenance at HWV.
the maintenance records were not recovered, the
investigation revealed a two-page handwritten list of
discrepancies for the airplane, prepared by the mechanic
who relocated the airplane to HWV and was performing the
maintenance on it.
Erik stated that the airplane had been posted on the
internet for sale, but that the owner did not reply to
several requests to see the airplane and its records. He
and his wife flew to Mattituck, New York, where the
airplane had been parked for several years, to examine
the exterior of the airplane. Afterwards, they continued
to try to contact the owner.
months, the owner finally responded to the buyer and
informed him that the airplane had been flown to HWV for
an annual inspection and correction of maintenance
discrepancies in preparation for its sale.
Prior to the buyer’s examination and test flight of the
airplane at HWV, the owner represented to him in emails,
text messages, and over the telephone that the annual
inspection was completed, that there were no outstanding
discrepancies, that the airplane was airworthy, and that
it was ready for sale.
The mechanic who was working on the aircraft had
reported to the FAA investigators that he did not
complete the annual inspection because of the faulty
tachometer, and because the pilot had complained about a
lack of engine power following a flight in the accident
airplane on August 16, 2012, 3 days prior to the
accident. He stated that he made no effort to
troubleshoot the engine power issue, because the
airplane’s tachometer was not operational.
The owner had a friend accompany him on the flight 3
days before the crash. In an interview, the friend
explained that the airplane "would not climb properly"
and never reached an altitude above 300-400 feet. The
friend heard the owner complain to the mechanic that the
tachometer was inoperative and that there was "something
wrong with the power" that prevented the airplane from
The mechanic reported to investigators that he brought
the airplane into the hangar on the day of the accident
for the buyer's inspection, and then subsequently moved
the airplane back outside for the owner, and told the
owner the airplane "should not be flown." Investigators
asked the mechanic for the aircraft maintenance logbooks
but he reported he did not have them. The NTSB was
unable to locate the aircraft loogbooks.