On May 05, 2008, about 1920 eastern daylight time, an experimental Greco Drifter 912, N5318F, collided with terrain during a low altitude maneuver near Richards Field, Homestead, Florida. The student pilot, who was additionally the owner/builder, was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The student pilot was seriously injured and the passenger sustained no injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The personal local area flight departed about 1845 from Richards Field. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan had not been filed. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot submitted a written statement about 2 months following the accident, as his injuries prevented him from making immediate contact with a National Transportation Safety Board investigator. He reported that he was performing practice emergency landings with the engine at an idle setting. While on the approach, he maneuvered the airplane in a right bank to transition from the base leg to final approach leg of the traffic pattern. During the turn, the right wing stalled, and the airplane began a diving turn [spin]. The pilot reported that as he recovered the airplane from the spin it simultaneously collided with the terrain in a wings-level attitude.
The pilot reported that there were no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airframe or engine. In the section titled "RECOMMENDATION" in the NTSB Pilot/Operator Report, form 6120.1/2, the pilot stated that accident could have been prevented if he had configured the airplane with a higher airspeed while transitioning to the final approach leg, and attempted a shallower bank angle. He further noted that the turn was uncoordinated and too steep.
During a conversation with a Safety Board investigator, a coworker of the pilot reported that she had spoken with him on several occasions immediately following the accident. He indicated that following the departure, he was practicing emergency procedures adjacent to the airstrip. As he configured the airplane for the practice approach, he banked it in a steep right turn. The airplane suddenly appeared to experience a loss of lift and the right wing dropped down steeply. The pilot added power in an effort to abort the maneuver, but due to combination of the wind conditions and p-factor of the airplane, he could not recover in time. The airplane contacted the terrain in a flat attitude.
The coworker further stated that the pilot frequently flew the accident airplane, having logged about 200 hours flying; she estimated that his total flight time was comprised of about 2,500 hours.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector that responded to the accident reported that the airplane sustained structural damage to the fuselage and right wing. He noted that upon the collection of fuel from the three intact fuel tanks the airplane was equipped with, he recovered a total of about 1 gallon of fuel. He added that the pilot had received his student pilot certificate on July 05, 2001, and it had not been renewed.
The pilot reported that he held a sport pilot certificate and held a state driver's license in place of a current medical certificate. No record of a sport pilot certificate issued to the pilot could be obtained from FAA records. At the time of this writing, the pilot has not responded to Safety Board investigators' multiple attempts to contact him regarding his pilot certification.