NTSB Identification: ERA14LA180
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, April 04, 2014 in Ocala, FL
Aircraft: HELPLING HELEN C TANGO 2, registration: N599WT
Injuries: 1 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On April 4, 2014, about 1620 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Helpling Tango 2, N599WT, was destroyed during collision with terrain and a subsequent post-crash fire after takeoff from Ocala International Airport (OCF), Ocala, Florida. The private pilot/owner/builder was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The pilot was not immediately available for interview, as she was being treated for her injuries. Several witnesses provided statements to the police, and their statements were consistent throughout. Some said that their attention was drawn to the sound of the airplane's engine during its pre-takeoff run-up due to a "popping" sound; but reported that the engine sound was smooth and continuous at "full" power throughout the takeoff.

After takeoff, the airplane climbed about 20 feet above the runway when the left canopy opened "suddenly" and began "flapping up and down." The airplane began "porpoising" before it entered a steep left bank and subsequently impacted the ground in a left-wing-low attitude and a postcrash fire ensued.

The pilot's fiancé did not witness the accident, but responded immediately to the accident site where the pilot was found some distance from the airplane. He reported to both police and an NTSB investigator that the pilot stated the canopy opened unexpectedly.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land. Her most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third class medical certificate was issued on September 27, 2012. The pilot's total flight experience could not be immediately determined.

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 2013. Its maintenance records were not recovered, and neither its maintenance history nor its total time could be determined.

Examination of photographs taken by the Ocala Police Department revealed that the airplane came to rest upright. The engine compartment, instrument panel, cockpit, cabin area, and both wings were consumed by fire. The empennage appeared largely intact.

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