On June 18, 2011, about 2015 mountain daylight time, an unregistered Six Chuter Skye Ryder Aerochute SR7XL, a two-place weight-shift powered parachute, impacted the terrain about 10 miles west of Tooele, Utah. The pilot, who was the sole occupant, was killed in the accident sequence. The powered parachute, which was owned and operated by the pilot, sustained substantial damage. The 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal pleasure flight, which departed the Iosepa Recreation Area at a time estimated to be about 15 minutes prior to the accident, was being operated in visual meteorological conditions. No flight plan had been filed.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector who responded to the scene, about 30 minutes prior to the accident, the person piloting the parachute contacted the individual who had been teaching him how to fly it. During that interaction the pilot said that he was thinking about going flying, but the person who had been teaching him told him that the wind was way beyond the limits of the parachute, and that he should not take it into the air. Because the pilot continued to express his desire to go flying, the other individual expressed his concern for the pilot’s safety, and offered to come to the area where the pilot wanted to fly, in order to check out the wind conditions. When that person reached a location near where he expected the pilot to be waiting for him, he found the pilot and the wreckage of the parachute entangled in a barbed wire fence. After calling 911, he noted that the winds at the location were variable in direction, and blowing about 30 knots with gusts to about 35 knots.

According to the FAA Inspector, there was a terrain impact scar about 20 feet east of the barbed wire fence, and the area around that scar contained a number of components from the airframe that the parachute supported. The inspector’s on-scene examination of the parachute, its engine, and the associated airframe did not reveal any anomalies that would have contributed to a loss of control. He also said that his evaluation of the scars on the propeller revealed evidence of power being produced by the engine at the time of the impact.

During the investigation it was determined that the powered parachute, which did not qualify to be operated under the provisions of Federal Aviation Regulation Part 103 (ultralight aircraft), had not been registered with the FAA. It was also determined that the person who was piloting the parachute did not possess an FAA pilot’s certificate or airman’s medical, and had only flown four previous times in a powered parachute.

During the investigation, the NTSB Investigator-In-Charge contacted the manufacturer to discuss the wind limitation of the SR7XL. According to the manufacturer, a person with only four flights (which would only total around four hours due to fuel duration) should only go up in calm or very light winds, and then only while in direct radio contact with an instructor at the site of the flight. Although a very experienced pilot could fly the aircraft in 30 mph winds, the manufacturer would not expect a person with only four flights to be able to control the aircraft in winds of that magnitude. The manufacturer further stated that most pilots normally do not fly them in winds that are over about 10 or 15 mph. The forward airspeed of the aircraft is in the low to mid 20 mph range, so even when flying into the wind the aircraft may be traveling backwards over the ground.

An autopsy performed by the office of the Utah State Medical Examiner determined that the cause of death was blunt force injuries. A forensic toxicology performed by the Utah Department of Health was negative for ethanol, isopropanol, methanol, acetone, morphine, cocaine, methamphetamine, tetrahydrocannabinol, and prescription drugs. The carboxyhemoglobin test result was 1.6 %, with a normal level for a non-smoking adult being 2.3% or less. The FAA’s Civil Aerospace Medical Institute did not perform a forensic toxicology examination, as no toxicological samples were provided.

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