On November 16, 2005, at 1210 mountain standard time, an amateur-built, experimental Hopkins Rutan VariViggen airplane, N389VV, impacted terrain during landing at the Eagle Roost Airpark in Aguila, Arizona. The private pilot, who was the sole occupant, sustained serious injuries, and the airplane incurred substantial damage. The pilot/owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 as an initial test flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the local area flight, which departed the airpark about 25 minutes prior to the accident. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to the pilot's written account of the event, he was conducting his first test flight in the aircraft after building the canard-wing, pusher-propeller airplane. He considered the winds to be light and variable. He took off, departed the traffic pattern, and conducted the test flight. Upon returning, he set up for landing on runway 35. On the first approach, he believed he was too high and the airplane encountered a "strong gust of wind" from the tail, ballooning the airplane up 40 to 50 feet. He aborted the approach and went around for a second attempt. During the second approach, he extended his downwind leg, and established the airplane on a 9-degree approach angle at 80 miles per hour. He did not make any additional adjustments to the throttle, and "allowed his airspeed to decay to the point that the canard stalled." The right wing dropped and the tip scraped the ground resulting in a cartwheel with the nose of the airplane impacting the ground shortly thereafter.
The airplane sustained substantial damage to the cockpit/cabin area, the canard wing, and the left vertical stabilizer and wing.
The pilot accumulated a total of 83 hours of flight experience, none of which were in the same make and model as the accident airplane. He did not have a current biennial flight review endorsement nor did he have a current medical certificate. He reported that he might have been able to prevent the accident had he hired an experienced test pilot to conduct the flight tests required by the Federal Aviation Administration.