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  #16  
Old 08-08-2006, 10:56 PM
John Slade's Avatar
John Slade John Slade is offline
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Quote:
re-attaching some rebuilt baffles on the engine
After spending an hour absorbing this terrible tragedy I've finally come around to thinking about the HOW.
The battery was drained. You did some work under the cowl. Could it be that a fairly fat wire was removed and/or disturbed and shorted, or trapped to ground when the baffles or cowl were reinstalled? Could the starter have been left fully engaged? Contactor failure?
Not enough amps to do serious damage, and soon afterward you removed the battery. Two days later, return with a fully charged battery.
The short is waiting......








Last edited by John Slade : 08-09-2006 at 07:05 PM.
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  #17  
Old 08-09-2006, 11:02 AM
Phil Kriley Phil Kriley is offline
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Brian- I am so sorry to hear of this - your site is one of the ones that inspired me to start my own Cozy.
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  #18  
Old 08-09-2006, 11:23 AM
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mdswitzer mdswitzer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Slade
After spending an hour absorbing this terrible tragedy I've finally come around to thinking about the HOW.
The battery was drained. You did some work under the cowl. Could it be that a fairly fat wire was removed and/or disturbed and shorted, or trapped to ground when the baffles or cowl were reinstalled? Could the starter have been left fully engaged? Contactor failure?
Not enough amps to do serious damage, and soon afterward you removed the battery. Two days later, return with a fully charged battery.
The short is waiting......
I've seen a few situations like this on older cars, particularly MG's, so as a precaution I cut the main power lead on my MGB & put a 60 amp inline fuse on it - of course the positive starter cable isn't fused but it's heavy enough if the starter stuck or shorted the windings would burn up before the cable did
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  #19  
Old 08-09-2006, 01:20 PM
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neverquit neverquit is offline
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Default Brian's Story

This is Brian's story copied from the Cozy mailing list:

Where do I begin?...

Saturday, Aug 5, I spent a couple of hours at the airport
re-attaching
some rebuilt baffles on the engine after returning from 2-1/2
weeks of
vacation. Haven't had a lot of time to fly this summer - last
time was
in May - due to heavy priorities at work and home. Been kinda hot
here
in Phoenix too and I've been doing all my work outdoors on the
ramp.

After getting everything all buttoned up I wanted to start the
engine as
it had sat for so long. No go - the battery just wasn't up to it.
So I
removed the battery and took it home to charge it over the
weekend.

My first day back to work was Monday, so I decided to bring the
battery
with me and install it after work. About 5:45 I arrived at the
airport
and proceeded to install the battery. The plane was on its nose
as usual
when I work in the back seat. After getting the cables hooked up
I
hopped into the front seat and turned on the master, checking the
VM1000
engine monitor to see that the voltage was where it needed to be
and
turned the fuel valve to the fullest (right) tank. OK, before
starting I
want to do a walk around and make sure everything was clear. I
hopped
out of the plane and switched on the nose gear motor to extend
the nose
gear. After it was out I walked to the front of the plane and as
I
approached the canard I saw and white/grey smoke drift by the
canard. As
I looked up I could smell the distinct odor of burning electrical
wiring
and saw the smoke coming from the top of the cowl.

I raced around to the cockpit and shut the fuel valve off (but
didn't
think to shut the master off) and then in a panic could not
remember
where my fire extinguisher was. I tore the front seat cushion off
thinking it was under my seat (that's where I kept it until I had
the
plane upholstered). When I didn't see it under the seat, the real
panic
set in. I called the tower from my cell phone and told them to
please
send the fire truck to tie down 330, got confirmation and hung
up. At
this point I still thought it was just some wires burning so I
raced to
the cowl with my screwdriver and removed the 4 screws temporarily
holding the top cowl on. As soon as I removed the cowl flames
jumped up
between the firewall and the engine. I kept thinking "where is
the fire
truck?" and looked to see if it was coming but didn't see a
thing. He
fire was crackling now.

We had a storm moving into the valley last night - typical this
time of
year. The winds were picking up from the south and were blowing
from the
engine to the nose of the plane. I called 911 and told them I
needed
fire trucks at the Chandler airport immediately - they were
already on
the way. Seems Chandler Municipal doesn't have a fire truck and
that's
who the tower called.

I could not see the origin of the flames other than they were
coming
from that space between the engine and firewall. The winds were
blowing
the flames out through the NACA scoop and the smoke was turning
from
grey to black. In almost an instant the flames reached up from
the scoop
around the aft fuselage. The smoke was billowing black within a
matter
of a few seconds. I think this is when I first realized the plane
was
going to be lost. It was just going so fast. I could hear the
sirens
faintly in the distance and knew they would never make it in
time.

I got in my truck which was parked a couple of feet in front of
the nose
of the plane and moved it further away. All I could do at this
point was
watch it go up in flames. The fire trucks arrived but by the time
the
first drop of water hit the plane it was mostly just a small file
of
rubble where the fuselage had been. When the fuselage was
consumed the
plane took a final tip backward onto the winglets. The firemen
ended up
having to pour foam on the flames as water just wasn't stopping
the
flames that by this time were mostly engulfing the strakes and
inboard
wing sections. The news helicopters got a "breaking story" just
at the
end of the 6pm newscasts as the thick black smoke poured from the
remains.

The wife of the FAA safety investigator just happened to drive by
the
airport as the plane was just starting to go up. She called her
husband
and he was on the scene before the flames were out. From first
wiff of
smoke to no more flames took all of 20 minutes. What was left was
a pile
of melted goo where the fuselage had been, a bunch of ash blowing
around, the wings and spar held together but the structure of the
wings
was gone except for the outbopard two feet or so and the winglets
remained upright with hardly any damage. The engine top side
hardly
looked any worse for the wear - the flames had all moved forward
of the
engine - but 2 of the 3 prop blades were mostly gone.

After giving the investigator my report as well as the police and
fire
officials, I started making plans to get the mess cleaned up. I
went
home and got some shovels and a broom and returned half an hour
later to
start shoveling the loose debris into my truck. The airport used
their
street sweeper to vacuum up much of the small stuff and we
dragged the
engine/wing hulk forward a bit and wrapped it in a tarp for
overnight.

Tuesday morning at 6am my dad and I came to get the rest of it.
We used
an engine hoist to pull the engine off the firewall and stored it
in a
friends hangar (friend has a new Cozy in the test flight stages
and did
a flyby for me as dad and I cut through the spars to separate the
wings
from the firewall. We cut off the landing gear legs to reduce the
weight
somewhat and then picked up the firewall piece and layed it in
the truck
followed by the two wings. After covering it in a tarp we took a
slow 45
minute drive through town to the landfill and deposited the
remains
there.

Nothing is left other than the engine. I'll try to get some
salvage from
it. No hull insurance, just liability and medical. It'll probably
pay to
have the tiedown space re-paved. Kind of sad.

As I walked up to the plane last night for the first time after
talking
to the fire officials, a piece of paper blew across the tarmac
and
landed at my feet. It was the only thing I could see from the
pile of
rubble that had any white color to it. I reached down and picked
it up -
it was a page from the New Testament of the Bible that I always
kept in
my flightbag, singed around the edges. I put it in my pocket and
when I
got home that night my wife and I took it out and read God's
personal,
wind delivered message to me. The page was from I Peter and
chapter 4.
Verses 12-13 in the middle of the page read " Beloved, think it
not
strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though
some
strange thing happened unto you; But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are
partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be
revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."

Thank you Father for protecting me last night. I'm so thankful
this
happened while I was on the ground and no one was in the plane
with me.
Thank you for giving me so much joy in the building and flying of
"Blonde Streak". I certainly don't understand what happened or
why, but
I don't question Your Sovereignty. You know my feelings of hurt,
my
questions of how did this happen and what went wrong. And while I
may
never know the reason for why this happened until I am in
eternity some
day with You, I am content that You know what is best for me.

Thanks for listening,
Brian DeFord
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  #20  
Old 08-09-2006, 02:00 PM
Wayne Hicks Wayne Hicks is offline
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You know, Brian participates on this site and he definitely said, "Give me some time and I'll report the gory details..." I would have given him that opportunity, or I would have gotten his permission first.
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  #21  
Old 08-09-2006, 02:37 PM
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Sorry for the loss Brian. I too followed your web pages and was inspired by your build. I'm closing in on chapter 4 and I winced when I read of the fire. I'm just starting to build - and it hurt, I can only imagine what you must be feeling. How can I help?

HiGeez
Jerry Preiser
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  #22  
Old 08-09-2006, 10:28 PM
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danstrom danstrom is offline
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Quote:
shoveling the loose debris into my truck.
I've never communicated with you, Brian, and I don't even think I've ever seen a pic of your plane... but when I read this line, it physically hurt... "the loose debris [that moments before was a fine airplane]".
My most heartfelt condolences on your loss.
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  #23  
Old 08-09-2006, 11:53 PM
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Brian DeFord Brian DeFord is offline
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Well, I was going to copy my write up of the incident but it looks like Neverquit beat me to it. Thanks so much for all the kind remarks and personal responses. I must have received well over 75 e-mails in the past 24 hours after my post on the canard mailing list. Many of you have offered your time to help me rebuild or offer parts or to build parts - even to spend your vacation time helping me build. I'm deeply grateful to all of you for your concern and am truly humbled.
At this time I am not contemplating rebuilding Blonde Streak or building another Cozy. As many of you know I had her for sale for the past year and was prepared to give her up at any time. As I explained to many of you when I first put her up for sale, I have different priorities now than I did when I started to build. That hasn't really changed and that is why I do not anticipate building again. Loosing her the way I did came as a complete shock, but we're getting over it. However, I still reserve the right to use "Blonde Streak" just in case...OK?
Thanks again for all of your sympathies and offers of generosity. The Cozy community is a great group of people I am proud to be associated with. Keep building and flying - the feeling when you take that first flight is indescribable...

Regards,
Brian
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  #24  
Old 08-10-2006, 12:31 AM
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Dennis Passey Dennis Passey is offline
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Brian. I was waiting for your deliberation with regards to building agian before I posted. I had an inkling you would close the book with the end of the chapter in this firey way. Let it be said that you leave a large shadow for many to follow behind..and within that.. we are inspired by your website and the fine thing you crafted as it is described there. Best of all you, are you. It was you who built the animate from the inanimate.. we can all aspire to the same as followers. I would say in a larger sense, with regards to the verbage you ended your post with, we would all do well to aspire to that same reflection as followers as well.
Glad you were unhurt.... Thankful for your perspective, and for posting it .
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  #25  
Old 08-10-2006, 12:53 PM
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Blonde Streak was the first Cozy I ever sat in. It was a beautiful plane. Brian I am sorry for your loss.
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  #26  
Old 08-10-2006, 07:55 PM
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tnt tnt is offline
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Hi Brian, ditto what everybody else said except for having sat in your Cozy. (I don't mean to sound insincere by putting it this way though.)

Last edited by tnt : 08-10-2006 at 09:40 PM.
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  #27  
Old 08-23-2006, 12:49 PM
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Brian DeFord Brian DeFord is offline
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Default N309BD Fire Pictures

I met with the FAA Investigator this morning and he was gracious enough to give me the photos he took the night of the fire. I'll post them here in the next few posts for the benefit of all. They are in the order in which they were taken. Of particular interest to me is how little is left of the fuselage - it's basically gone. The close ups of the engine/firewall show where the fire originated, but have not yielded any clues to me on the exact component that failed. I'm more convinced as time has gone on and I've had a chance to think about the failure modes that a failure of one of the contactors, particularly the starter contactor, is the most likely cause of the electrical fire and not a short circuit of the cable to the firewall. However, it can likely never be proved.

The investigators final classification is that this was an "occurance" and not an "incident" or "accidient" as there was no intent to fly. No forms to file or marks against my record or anything like that. Still sad to see these pictures for the first time now two weeks after the fact.

Regards,
Brian
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  #28  
Old 08-23-2006, 12:54 PM
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Brian DeFord Brian DeFord is offline
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  #29  
Old 08-23-2006, 01:02 PM
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Brian DeFord Brian DeFord is offline
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and more...
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  #30  
Old 08-23-2006, 01:06 PM
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Brian DeFord Brian DeFord is offline
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and lastly...
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