The sport pilot reported to the National Transportation Safety Board in his completed "Aircraft Accident/Incident Report" that, while cruising his experimental light sport airplane approximately 500 feet above the Pacific Ocean and offshore from the Emma Wood State Beach, the airplane's "flying characteristics appeared unusual. The [control] stick appeared to be bound-up and the plane was banking to the left." According to the pilot, he responded to the situation by putting his airplane in the water approximately 600 feet from the coastline. An unidentified person nearby on a jet ski rescued the pilot and passenger within seconds of the crash. Subsequently, the pilot verbally reported to the Safety Board investigator that he was familiar with the vicinity of the accident site having "grown up surfing in the area." Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot recovered his airplane from the water, and he examined it. The pilot reported to the Safety Board investigator that the stick and aileron cables appeared okay, and he did not observe any physical evidence of a flight control problem. The pilot did not indicate to the Safety Board investigator that he had experienced any malfunction with the engine, propeller, or accessories. A Federal Aviation Administration airworthiness inspector also examined the airplane wreckage. The inspector confirmed the airplane's flight control continuity, and he did not observe evidence of control binding.
The pilot made a statement to a responding deputy with the Ventura County Sheriff Department regarding the chronology of the accident flight. In the deputy's report, the pilot indicated that he had been flying with his passenger at a safe altitude between 200 and 300 feet above the water, and about 100 yards from the shore, when the engine began to lose power. The pilot stated he turned his airplane toward the shore and began to look for a safe place to land when suddenly something broke off. The airplane began to lose altitude and, unable to reach the shore, the airplane crashed into the ocean.
The pilot's passenger was also interviewed by the deputy. In the deputy's report, the passenger is reported to have estimated that the pilot had been flying between 100 and 200 feet above the ocean just prior to the impact.
The deputy also interviewed a witness who was located with his children at a beachside camp site. The witness reported observing the airplane flying between 20 and 50 feet above the ocean just prior to it turning left and impacting the water.
The Safety Board investigator interviewed a witness who was also located at a camp site on the Emma Wood State Beach. The witness reported that he was employed as a fireman, and he provided the Safety Board investigator with a drawing depicting the accident airplane's flight path, crash site, and the locations of bystanders. The witness reported that, prior to the crash, he had observed the airplane flying straight and level in a southerly direction. The airplane was about 20 feet above the water, 100 yards from the beach, and approximately 50 yards (horizontally) from surfers. The witness stated that "when the plane turned toward the beach...the left wing clipped the water." At the time, the airplane was about 100 yards horizontally from the fireman and his grandson.