A look inside the world of experimental aircraft is prompted by John Denver’s fatal crash 25 years ago. Denver was flying an experimental aircraft he had recently purchased. The non-standard placement of the fuel selector valve was found to be at the heart of the issues that lead to the crash.
John, Greg and Todd talk about how experimental aircraft are built and maintained. They talk about how modifications are made, often with little oversight.
The particular Long-EZ plane that Denver purchased was built with the fuel selector valve mounted on the bulkhead behind the pilot’s left shoulder. Using it literally required the use of a mirror and pliers.
The setup, combined with questionable preflight decisions, set John Denver up to fail. Witnesses describe the engine sputtering, a steep nosedive and a crash into the ocean off the California cost. The NTSB concluded that the root cause was issues related to the fuel selector valve.
The Flight safety Detectives offer words of caution to the experimental aircraft community to make sure that safety is top of mind at all times.
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