NTSB Identification: ERA12LA307
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, April 28, 2012 in Port Canaveral, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/10/2013
Aircraft: RICE LEO B KITFOX SERIES 5, registration: N77LR
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The purpose of the single-pilot flight was for the pilot to photograph boats from a low altitude about 3 miles offshore. Witnesses who saw the airplane prior to the accident reported that it was circling about 15 to 20 feet above the water and appeared to be taking photographs. The pilot reported that, at the conclusion of the flight, he leveled the airplane at an altitude of 100 feet and felt the elevator control bind as if “something was stuck.” The pilot was unable to regain elevator control, and the airplane contacted the water in a wings-level attitude and sank. The airplane was located in the water and recovered about 10 days later and was subsequently examined. The seat pan panel and the dust boot at the base of the pilot's control stick were removed, and a 6-inch long, plastic, spring-loaded clamp and a leather glove were discovered between the tube seat structure and the control column bearing. These items would have restricted the movement of the control column, which, in turn, would have affected the elevator movement. The airplane’s maintenance history could not be determined, as the pilot was unable to furnish the maintenance records after the accident. Therefore, it could not be determined when the pilot/owner, or other maintenance personnel, had the opportunity to close the clamp and glove beneath the seat adjacent to the flight control tubes and bearings.

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

Impingement of the elevator control by foreign objects (clamp, glove) left in the flight control path by the pilot/owner or maintenance personnel.

Full narrative available

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