KIS Cruiser Breaks Rod Bolt

Vance Jaqua

Originally published April 1997

(Submitting a little possible input to assuage my guilt for being an "honorary" member--)

I guess you guys have heard about the pre-Christmas misadventure of our 4 place KIS Cruiser prototype. While Paul Randel (one of our favorite customers & carrier qualified etc, etc) was giving his future father-in-law his first small aircraft ride outside of Davis California our less than 360 hour from new Lycoming O-360 180 HP broke a rod bolt and destructively scattered its innards. Coming up just a few miles short of the Davis airport he had to select a mud soaked plowed field--all went well as he held the weight off the nose gear which eventually disappeared into the mud and flipped the plane on its back. No one was seriously injured though head room was decreased by about 4" and they had to kick a window out to crawl out. Structurally almost nothing was damaged other than the cabin roof and the doors and windows.

The mud was virtually impassable but we drained the wing tanks into a bucket brigade and removed the wings. A helicopter was the only practical way out so we airlifted first the wings, then righted the fuselage by having the helicopter lift the tail up by a strap around the rear fuselage. (Try that you RV-tin builders and watch it buckle out of true.) They lifted the fuselage by straps around the center spar stubs (it hung nose down like a poor dead fish). We took the whole thing to dry ground and loaded it on a trailer for the long trip back to Oxnard. We are waiting for a ruling from Lycoming on the engine--airframe repair has not been started but should not take long. Both it and the Continental IO-360 powered second prototype should be at Oshkosh--sadly only a 2 place will go to Sun-N-Fun.

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Revised -- 21 September 1997