Grimaud Engine Failure
February 9, 2001
In the past year I bought an old Super Market and six acres of land in the center of Chapin, SC, and opened an equipment rental store and a furniture and design store. Converting the property to a strip shopping center and opening the new businesses, along with the requirements of the businesses I already had going, have not allowed me to spend much time working on the Seawind so I still do not know why the engine quit. I have checked everything I know and have been advised to check. I may never know, but hopefully something will show up during the rebuilding process. Also hopefully, the requirements of my business interests will allow me to concentrate more on the rebuilding process this Spring. I know all of the current builders are interested in what might have happened, but that is the best I can do for now. Any further attempt to state the problem would be pure speculation at this point. I am cataloging any ideas and suggestions that are submitted to me and, during the rebuild, I will investigate those that seem to have some relevance.
Nov 13, 2000
I flew my Lake to Burlington NC for a run of the Seawind Engine on a test stand. I had previously taken the engine and prop to Burlington to have the engine test run by Triad Aviation and to have H&H Propeller inspect the prop and get an estimate for repair. The engine ran fine with absolutely no problem areas. The prop will need one new blade and an overhaul at a cost of something over $4,000. Since there was ab solutely no damage to the prop hub or seals, the prop and engine shop did not feel there would be any damage to the engine.
Oct 12, 2000
Joe Grimaud and Lewis Blackwell, of the Columbia FSDO, met at Fairfield County Airport to survey the aircraft and see if it could be determined readily what happened. In order to check for a fuel related problem the following procedures were followed: All three fuel vents were checked clear where they exit the aircraft. The vents were also checked clear at the fuselage ends where the wings had been disconnected for transport. These checks were made by blowing through each end of the vent lines, first at the wing ends and then at the fuselage and tail vent. The header tank sump was then checked for fuel and/or water. It still contained fuel and contained no water. Mr Blackwell then held a container to the fuel line where it had been disconnected from the engine fuel servo/injector while Joe Grimaud turned on the master switch and turned on the electric fuel boost pump, which had been on at engine stoppage. Fuel flowed readily from the line with the activation of the boost pump, pumping fuel from the header tank to where it had been connected to the servo/injector. At this point, both parties concluded, that if the problem were fuel related, it must be on the engine side of the connection to the servo/injector. No further action taken by the investigating parties, pending a test run of the engine by an engine shop.
Estimate of repairs: JoeGrimaud, as the aircraft builder, believes the aircraft can be rebuilt for less than $25,000, not counting labor. Damage to the fuselage was limited to relatively minor non structural parts. Both wings and the vertical tail will have to be replaced. The elevator and left aileron and flap will also need replacement. The right aileron and flap are believed to be repairable. Although the engine nacelle survived with no damage, one blade of the prop went through the left wing and sustained damage necessitating repair or replacement of the blade by a prop shop. By far most of the value of the aircraft was in the fuselage and engine nacelle. All systems in the fuselage remain in good condition, including all hydraulics and avionics which continued in operation during and after the crash and had to be shut down .
October 20, 2000
A letter from Joe to Mike Pastelak at SNA. Joe sent us a copy to post for you:
Thanks for the words from all the folks. I am sorry for the loss as well, but under the circumstances, so glad to be alive well and healthy that it is hard to feel too bad. I had been telling everyone that building that airplane was a once in a lifetime experience. I guess this situation is going to prove me at least partly wrong because I am planning to rebuild it. And I am amazed at how well it fared under the circumstances. The fuselage is essentially in tact, and the Archangel equipment and everything was still on after I came to a stop. It actually seemed like a relatively easy stop although the 20 or so trees of six to eight inches it clipped off attest to what we went through before coming to rest.
I and the FAA examiner went out to Fairfield County Airport and examined the plane fuel system. We found the fuel vents free and clear, fuel still in the header tank with no water in the sump. He held a container to the line where we had disconnected the line from the servo/injector while I turned on the master switch and the fuel boost pump and it pumped fuel readily and plentifully. That's is as far as I have gotten as yet. Bob Caudle is coming by Tuesday afternoon and we are going to make some checks of the electrical system to see if there is anyway something could have grounded both mags simultaneously.
The FAA inspector was going to see if he could contact a Lycoming regional rep and see if they would take a look at the engine, but I haven't heard anything from him in about a week so I guess I will go ahead and con tact an engine shop to check that part out. I would need to before reinstalling it anyway. The engine nacelle was not even touched although the side pressure caused the tail to rupture horizontally below the horizontal tail. And one blade of the q tip prop went through the left wing, bending or curling the q tip even more than normal. Since the prop was only windmilling I believe it will be repairable also and hopefully that pressure did not damage the crankshaft.
That's where I am right now. If you have any words of wisdom, I would be happy to listen.
Thanks again for the concern.
Here's a letter from Joe:
Yes the hull did apparently protect me well. As a matter of fact everything in it still seems to work as far as I can tell, although the left wing spar is broken and the right wing has many breaks and abrasions. About 3 feet of the rear tail cone with water rudder sheared off. Hit a tree, or the ground. No obvious damage to the broken off piece, which I would have suspected. And the water rudder was in good shape attached to it but extended with the whole piece about twenty feet away from the rest of the plane. The plane had turned about 90 deg to the left as it went from the tree entry point to the stop with the left wing into the ground and the tail broken and bent over with the engine almost resting on top of the left wing with one prop blade through the wing. Although the tail was obviously broken the rest of the engine nacelle was in excellent shape with no damage except for the one prop blade. We de-cowled it and took the engine off and the tail snapped back into position much like a bent fishing rod would. Of course, the vertical tail is ruined. I don't know yet about the horizontal tail. It looks like it may be repairable. By far, most of the cost of the plane is still in good shape....so.....assuming a little bit of successful negotiating with the wife, I hope to be rebuilding it. As I told the TV news caster, "I knew it would land on land or water, but now I know it will even land in trees."
Initial FAA Report by Joe Grimaud
Subject: Final Flight, Seawind 98GG, October 3, 2000, Pilot-Joseph A. Grimaud
This is an outline for a flight in Seawind N98GG from my home at (address removed to protect privacy) (06A) which ended in the woods near the intersection of Poplar Springs Rd and Sardis Rd, off of US 178 in Saluda County, SC, after an engine failure. Take off from Lake Murray was within minutes of 8AM and the flight ended at 8:10 to 8:15 AM.
On the night prior to the flight I made a preliminary preflight of the aircraft, including a walk around, and stick gauging the four fuel tanks, as preparation for planning for the flight. I also reviewed the weather on both the weather channel and the internet. The fuel readings totaled 60.5 gallons which I entered on the fuel totalizer of the airplane that night. The fuel readings from the stick confirmed closely the readings from the guages which were Left Aux 7.0 gal, Left main 32 gal, Right Main 17 gal, and Right Aux 4.5 gal.
On the morning of the flight I made a preflight of the airplane including checking the oil level, (10 qts) and added 2 qts of aero shell 100 mineral oil to bring the oil level up to 12 qts. The plane has about 60 hours on it and I had not yet switched to a multigrade, which I had intended to do in Tuskeegee.
I cranked the plane and drove down the driveway to the edge of lake Murray where I engaged the parking brake and went through the preflight checklist. Engine was accelerated to 1800 RPM with right and left mag drops of approx 75 RPM each. Control movements were checked, the flaps were lowered to 20 deg and 06A was entered on the GPS for a direct flight to Tuskeegee. All engine readings were normal and after the oil temperature reached approximately 140 deg I entered the water, lowered the water rudder, idled out away from shore and began a takeoff run to the west in relatively calm water.
After take off, I raised the flaps and set a course of 254 deg to Tuskeegee with a gentle cruise climb which started at about 500 fpm. The climb rate was allowed to gradually reduce to approx 200 fpm and the auto pilot was engaged with the heading bug set to 254 deg and in attitude mode for a cruise climb to what I anticipated to be 6500 feet. Power was reduced to 25 MP and 2500 RPM. Mixture was reduced to obtain a fuel flow of approx 20gph. All engine instruments read normal, with CHT’s, after approx five min of flight, ranging from approx 345 to 385 deg. I don’t recall the EGT’s except that they were in the green. Oil temp was running about 210 deg, and mixture was adjusted as necessary to maintain these approx temps.
At some point early on after T/O, I had selected the aux boost pump to get the remaining fuel from both aux tanks into the mains. I also selected the fuel transfer pump to transfer fuel from the left main to the right main, as the left wing was somewhat heavy. At some point after passing the eastern shore of Lake Murray the aux tanks were reading zero and the aux transfer pump was turned off. I had just begun to check the guages to determine the status of the fuel transfer from the left to the right side. The right side guages were showing 27 main and zero aux (only right side or left side can be selected at one time). It was at this time and approximately 10 minutes into the flight at approx 3,000 feet that the engine suddenly almost died, wavered once or twice and quit. I quickly checked the main fuel boost pump which was still on, then checked the main fuel shut off to confirm it was fully open/in, and went to full rich on the mixture. I also moved the throttle back and forth a couple of times with no results.
All of the rest of the things I did prior to impact but I cannot be sure in what order:
I punched the “nearest field button” on the GPS which quickly showed Saluda County airport off my right wing at 7.5 NM. I turned in that direction, trying to survey my entire situation including trying to think of anything I might do to restart the engine. I tuned in 121.5 on my com radio and called three times for Columbia Approach Control to advise of my situation. I increased the volume which I realized I had turned down after listening to the ATIS and getting the altimeter. I didn’t hear any response so I didn’t waste anymore time on it. (Looking at the plane later, I observed that I had failed to hit the flip/flop switch and the com had still been on 120.15 while I was transmitting.) At some point I engaged the ignition which engaged the starter but hardly created any effect as the prop was windmilling. It was quickly obvious from my altitude I was not going to make Saluda County Airport. I picked up a couple of reasonably sized pastures a mile or two to the right front quarter of the plane and turned toward them. Seeing some cows in the smaller/closer one I decided I would go for the larger one just beyond if I could make it. As I approached, probably from a north or north westerly direction I realized I could not make the larger more distant pasture and decided to go for the closer smaller pasture, cows or no cows. At some point I also moved the prop to the full aft position to try to maximize the glide. As I turned back to the left to align with the long part of the pasture I noticed I had to make quite a large aileron correction to bring the left wing back up (control responses slugish). A quick crosscheck of the airspeed showed I was already down to 60 kts and I had no ability to stretch the glide to make even the short pasture. At that point, barely above stall speed and just a hundred or less feet above the trees I decided to hold what I had and fly it as gently into the trees as possible. Just a second before the plane contacted the trees, I leaned forward, placed my left arm along the edge of the glare shield and placed the top of my head against my arm to absorb the impending impact, holding the yoke steady with my right hand. The trees were entered and, within what seemed like no time, I came to a halt. I remember thinking, “Huh, that wasn’t too bad. I’ve had normal landings that felt rougher than that.”
I immediately became concerned about the possibility of fire. I turned off the fuel master switch, the master switches and all electronic switches. I unlocked the canopy and activated the electrically operated canopy. It opened enough to allow me to exit, although with apparent strain against the limbs surrounding it. After exiting, I checked my own condition which seemed absolutely normal except for a slightly skinned right elbow and said a quick prayer of thanksgiving. I then made my way through the thick woods the 100 yards or so toward the pasture I had been headed toward. I walked to a couple of house trailers within a quarter of a mile but got no response. I was headed toward another one when I heard a vehicle coming down Poplar Springs Rd. I flagged him down. He had a radio in his truck and called in for help. Chief Deputy Chuck _________, of the Saluda County Sheriff’s department arrived together with another deputy and a highway patrolman within about an hour.
“Praise God from whom all blessing flow.”
Here's the preliminary NTSB report:
NTSB Identification: ATL01LA004
Accident occurred OCT-03-00 at CHAPIN, SC
Aircraft: Joseph A. Grimaud SEAWIND 3000, registration: N98GG
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.
On October 3, 2000, about 1030 eastern daylight time, a Joseph A. Grimaud Seawind 3000 experimental amphibious airplane, N98GG, was substantially damaged when it collided with ground during initial climb following takeoff from Lake Murray in Chapin, South Carolina. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant aboard, was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight being conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91. The flight was originating at the time of the accident. According to the pilot, he topped off the airplane with fuel prior to departure. Shortly after takeoff from the lake, the engine lost power. The airplane impacted the ground nose first in a heavily wooded area.