On April 23, 2011, about 1000 eastern daylight time, a Solo Wings Windlass Aquilla experimental-light sport aircraft (E-LSA), N94370, operated by a private pilot, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain, in Starke, Florida. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight that was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, on February 17, 2011, the pilot purchased the foreign manufactured weight-shift-control aircraft, which was equipped with a Rotax 503, 50-horsepower engine. The aircraft was issued an FAA special airworthiness certificate on January 17, 2007.

The pilot's wife reported that the pilot, who had not previously flown the aircraft, departed their residence about 0600, with the intention of practicing high-speed taxing at their private airstrip, located at secondary residence. When the pilot did not return home the following day as planned, she traveled to the airstrip, and discovered that the aircraft had crashed in a field adjacent to the runway.

The accident site was found about 2030, on April 24, 2011.

According to an FAA inspector, the grass airstrip was about 1,950-feet-long, 50-feet-wide, and oriented on a west-northwest/east-southeast heading. The first two-thirds of east runway contained mostly trees on both sides of the runway. The last one-third of the runway contained a tree line about 500 feet from the north side, and an open field to the south side of the runway. In addition, the runway was uneven and contained a mild ridge toward the east end.

The aircraft came to rest on its left side, in a field, just prior to the tree line located to the north of the eastern third of runway 10. The left wing, nose, left landing gear, and cockpit were substantially damaged, consistent with a steep nose down and left wing impact with the ground. There were no ground scars or tracks leading to the accident site.

Examination of the airframe and engine by an FAA inspector did not reveal any mechanical abnormalities. Fuel found in the gascolator was absent of contamination. The inspector noted that the damage to the propeller was consistent with a low-power setting and the throttle control was in the full aft position. In addition, the airplane was equipped with a ballistic parachute; however, the safety pin was installed.

An autopsy was performed on the pilot, on April 25, 2011, by the Office of the Medical Examiner District Eight, Gainesville, Florida. The autopsy report indicated the cause of death as "blunt injuries sustained in plane crash."

Toxicological testing performed on the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was negative for drugs and positive for the following volatiles:

">>144 (mg/dl, mg/hg) ETHANOL detected in Muscle
>>46 (mg/dl, mg/hg) ETHANOL detected in Blood (Cavity)
>>25 (mg/dl, mg/hg) ETHANOL detected in Brain
>>41 (mg/dl, mg/hg) N-BUTANOL detected in Muscle
>>11 (mg/dl, mg/hg) N-BUTANOL detected in Blood (Cavity)
>>4 (mg/dl, mg/hg) N-PROPANOL detected in Muscle
>>1 (mg/dl, mg/hg) N-PROPANOL detected in Blood (Cavity)"

It was noted that the tissue specimens tested had undergone putrefaction. In addition, the pilot's wife stated that the pilot did not consume any alcohol during dinner the night before the accident, and she was not aware of the pilot consuming any alcohol since "after college."

The pilot, age 53, held a private pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine land and an experimental aircraft builder repairman certificate for a Paracender II, powered parachute. Review of the pilot's logbook revealed that he had accumulated about 1,500 hours of total flight experience. The pilot's total weight-shift-control aircraft flight experience consisted of 5.7 hours flown with a flight instructor in a Revo Evolution Trike, during the 90 days preceding the accident.

According to maintenance records, the aircraft was manufactured in 2003. At the time of the accident, the aircraft had been operated for about 290 total hours, which included about 5 hours since its most recent condition inspection, which was performed on December 21, 2010.

Winds reported at an airport located about 24 miles, south-southwest of the accident site, at 0953, were from 160 degrees at 9 knots.

Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsis
Return to Query Page