NTSB Identification: ATL98GA086.
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Accident occurred Thursday, June 25, 1998 in MORGANTON, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/15/2001
Aircraft: Ector Aircraft Company 305A (L-19), registration: N16574
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

: NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this public aircraft accident report.

According to the pilot, he was flying above a fire as a spotter for the U. S. Forest Service (USFS), although he was employed by the North Carolina Forest Service (NCFS). The fire was on a mountain which lies in a north-south direction. The winds were westerly. He began by flying approximately 600-800 feet above the ridge. After completing several circuits, the pilot stated the air became turbulent, so he climbed 1000 feet. After completing several circuits at the new altitude, the pilot decided to reverse directions and fly a clockwise pattern. He flew away from the mountain on the leeward side and made a 180 degree turn. As he completed the turn, the airplane began to lose altitude rapidly. The pilot stated he added full power and leveled the wings, but he was still descending in excess of 500 feet per minute, with his airspeed decreasing through 80 miles per hour (mph). He then started a right turn to clear the ridge, but he was already below the ridge line. The pilot stated the controls became mushy and unresponsive. He stated he then attempted to make a 'controlled crash'. The pilot reported no problems with the airplane or engine. The pilot reported having approximately 4 1/2 years mountain flying experience while in Alaska, but no formal training in mountain flying. The airplane stalls at 47 mph when in level flight with no flaps. NCFS pilots reported that they have no regulations, handbook, or guidelines for use when flying.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The inflight encounter with a downdraft which led to a stall/mush and an inflight collision with the ground. Factors were the inadequate training in mountain flying and inadequate guidelines provided by the North Carolina Forest Service.

Full narrative available

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