On June 30, 1994, at 1830 central daylight time, a Lake LA-250 amphibian, N1404Z operated by William U. McReynolds, collided with the water and sank during takeoff on the Missouri River, approximately 5 miles north of Jefferson City, Missouri, while on a maintenance test flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The airplane was substantially damaged. The pilot received minor injuries and the passenger was not injured. The flight was originating from the river at the time of the accident. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
N1404Z departed from Columbia Airport, Columbia, Missouri, on a maintenance test flight after having had avionics work performed.
The pilot contacted the Columbia Air Traffic Control Tower during the flight and stated he was going to land on the river due to low fuel. Following the landing, the tower received a call from another airplane reporting the location of N1404Z and a request that fuel be brought out to the airplane. This request was relayed to Central Missouri Aviation and Jo-Del Electronics, whose owner was the passenger on board. Fuel was taken to the airplane. According to witnesses the pilot dipped the fuel tank prior to adding the fuel and it was empty. After fuel was added, the engine was started and it ran without any problems according to witnesses.
The pilot stated he made a precautionary landing on the river during the test flight because he wanted to get additional fuel. He continued to state that during the takeoff, after refueling, the airplane contacted a submerged object, porpoised, and hit the water. He stated the object was contacted prior to the airplane getting on step.
The passenger stated the airplane was landed on the river during the flight because it was out of fuel and that the fuel gauges were inoperative. He stated the airplane porpoised during the takeoff, became airborne 10 to 20 feet and nosed over into the water. He stated the airplane did not hit anything during the takeoff.
One witness reported, "The airplane appeared to bounce on top of the water much like a small boat does while speeding across the water. The aircraft veered slightly to the left at one point but then straightened as it went airborne for a split second then dove nose first back into the water." Another witness reported the takeoff run appeared normal and after approximately 2,000 feet the airplane "... made a slight veer to the left, went airborne momentarily and the nose dived back into the water hard."
According to the witnesses the airplane began to sink rapidly. Both the pilot and passenger exited the airplane through the windshield which had popped out during the impact. They both floated down river prior to being rescued. The airplane was not recovered from the water.