ERA12LA171
ERA12LA171

On February 6, 2012, at 1039 eastern standard time, an experimental, amateur-built Silhouette Zealot motorized glider impacted terrain about 300 feet south of runway 18, while on approach to Florida Flying Gators Ultra light Flight park (3FD4), Minneola, Florida. The glider was registered to a private owner and operated as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The glider sustained substantial damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The certificated private glider pilot received serious injuries. The flight originated from 3FD4 at 0926.

The pilot stated he departed the airport and flew to his training area and conducted some power-on stalls. According to the operating specifications, the glider was supposed to stall at 48 mph with the power on; however, the glider was stalling at 63 mph. He further stated his airspeed indicator had not been checked for accuracy. He returned to the airport and descended on a left base leg of the traffic pattern for runway 18. The glider was about 100 feet above ground level when the left wing and nose pitched down violently and stalled. There was insufficient altitude to recover and the glider collided with trees and the ground. The pilot stated the glider did not experience any mechanical problems before the accident.

A witness stated he observed the glider making a left turn on final approach. He observed the left wing of the glider drop down and the nose of the glider drop straight down. He then heard the pilot yell over the radio frequency "Oh No." There were no further radio communications. The witness went to the crash site and removed the pilot from the glider. Emergency personnel arrived and transported the pilot to a hospital.

Examination of the wreckage by an FAA inspector revealed the nose section of the glider was separated rearward to the forward cabin area. The propeller spinner was damaged and exhibited evidence of rotation. The composite propeller blade was destroyed. The engine assembly separated from its mounts. The engine cowling was fragmented. The composite nose leg was fragmented and remained partially attached to the airframe. The canopy was destroyed. The cabin area was compressed aft; the cabin seats, seat belts and shoulder harness remained intact and were in use at the time of the accident. The fuel tank located behind the pilot's seat was not ruptured and contained automotive fuel of an unmeasured quantity. The instrument panel was detached from the airframe. The throttle was in the open position. The HOBBS meter indicated 2.1 hours. Continuity of the flight controls was confirmed to all flight control surfaces. Examination of the engine showed no evidence of precrash failure or malfunction.

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