On May 28, 2012, approximately 1215 mountain daylight time, a Tackabury Air-Cam experimental amateur-built airplane, N788RJ, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while landing at the Fort Morgan Municipal Airport (KFMM), Fort Morgan, Colorado. The commercial pilot was fatally injured and the passenger sustained serious injuries. The aircraft was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The local flight originated from KFMM approximately 1100.

Family members reported that the pilot had completed two flights on the day of the accident, and the accident occurred during a third flight. During the first flight, the pilot performed four or five touch and go landings on runway 8/26. During the second flight, the pilot took his daughter, who was also the passenger during the accident flight, to observe their cattle from the air. The passenger stated that during the third flight, the accident flight, they flew over Empire Reservoir. The accident flight lasted about one hour.

The passenger had flown with the pilot for years and stated that the approach to runway 17 was normal. She stated that just before the airplane touched down, a strong gust of wind turned the airplane sharply to the right about 90 degrees. The passenger stated that the pilot added power to go around. The airplane continued to the right for several seconds before impacting the ground.

Several witnesses located to the south and west of runway 17 observed the airplane approaching to land. One witness stated that the airplane disappeared from view, behind terrain, for a few moments and then reappeared. The airplane was in a steep climb and several witnesses described a steep bank to the right. The airplane climbed to 40 or 50 feet above the ground before it descended to the ground and cartwheeled.


The pilot, age 65, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single and multiengine land ratings issued on March 10, 2012. His certificate contained the limitation “Passenger carrying in airplanes for hire is prohibited at night and on cross country flights of more than 50 nautical miles.” He was issued a second class airman medical certificate on July 12, 2010. The certificate contained the limitation “Holder shall wear lenses correcting near and distant while exercising the privileges of his airman certificate.”

A review of the pilot’s flight logbook indicated that he had logged no less than 2,054.9 hours total flight time; 11.7 hours in multiengine airplanes and 10.7 hours in the make and model of the accident airplane. The pilot successfully completed the requirements of a flight review on March 9, 2012.


According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot manufactured the airplane, a Tackabury Air-Cam (serial number AC-164) in 2012. It was registered with the FAA on a special airworthiness certificate for experimental operations. Two Rotax 912 ULS engines, rated at 100 horsepower, powered the airplane. Each engine was equipped with a 3-blade, Warp Drive, ground-adjustable propeller.

The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot and was maintained under a condition inspection program. A review of the maintenance records indicated that an initial condition inspection had been completed on May 18, 2012, at an airframe total time of 0 hours. A Designated Airworthiness Representative completed an FAA airworthiness inspection for a special airworthiness certificate on May 18, 2012. The first test flight of the airplane was completed on May 23, 2012, and lasted 0.8 hours. The airplane had flown 4.4 hours between the last inspection and the accident, and had a total airframe time of 4.4 hours.

The Amateur Built Experimental Operating Limitations for the airplane were located in the back-seat pocket of the airplane. These limitations stated in part that the airplane “must be operated for at least 40 hours” during the phase I flight testing. “During the flight testing phase, no person may be carried in this aircraft during flight unless that person is essential to the purpose of the flight.” The operating limitations had been issued on May 18, 2012, by an FAA Designated Airworthiness Representative.


The closest official weather observation station was Colorado Plains Regional Airport (KAKO), Akron, Colorado, located 28 nautical miles east of the accident site. The elevation of the weather observation station was 4,716 feet mean sea level. The routine aviation weather report (METAR) for KAKO, issued at 1153, reported, wind 190 degrees at 9 knots, gusting to 17 knots, visibility 10 miles, sky condition, clear, temperature 22 degrees Celsius (C), dew point temperature minus 6 degrees C, altimeter 29.87 inches.


Fort Morgan Municipal Airport (KFMM) is a public uncontrolled airport located 5 miles north of Fort Morgan, Colorado, at a surveyed elevation of 4,569 feet. The airport had three open runways; runway 14/32, 5,219 feet by 60 feet, concrete, runway 17/35, 3,800 feet by 30 feet, dirt/turf, and runway 8/26 2,467 feet by 100 feet, turf.


The accident site was located in level terrain vegetated with grass, to the west of runway 17/35. The accident site was at an elevation of 4,525 feet msl .The main wreckage consisted of the fuselage, the cabin, both wings, both engines, and the empennage.

The first set of ground scars was located east of the wreckage on runway 17/35. The first in the series of ground scars initiated approximately 40 feet east of the west edge of the runway, consistent with the approximate location of the runway centerline. Approximately 75 feet from the start of the first ground scar, a second ground scar initiated and angled off of the west side of the runway. The second ground scar was approximately 45 feet long. A third ground scar initiated east of and in parallel with the second ground scar. This third ground scar transitioned into a periodic ground scar and continued to the west edge of the runway.

The second set of ground scars initiated 50 feet to the west of the main wreckage and was narrow and periodic for 38 feet. A larger round portion of the ground scar contained broken fiberglass, radios, and personal effects. The right wing tip and navigation light were also located in this ground scar.

The fuselage consisted of the cabin, instrument panel, baggage compartment, and the main landing gear. The forward portion of the fuselage was crushed and broken. The floor of the cabin was crushed up and to the left, and grass and dirt were embedded in the forward portion of the fuselage. The windscreen separated and was fragmented. Both landing gear remained attached and included the tires, brakes, and struts. The landing gear was unremarkable. The instrument panel was partially separated from the airframe and fragmented. The following readings were obtained from the instrument panel: Hobbs 4.4, Kollsman window 29.99, airspeed zero, vertical speed indicator 50 foot climb, altimeter 6,500. All engine instruments read zero.

The right wing included the right aileron, right flap, right fuel tank, and right engine. Dirt was observed along the entire leading edge of the right wing. Dried grass was embedded in the inboard leading edge of the wing. The fuel tank was not compromised and contained an unknown amount of fuel. The engine remained attached to the wing and was unremarkable. The tube frame of the wing was bent and broken. The right aileron remained partially attached to the wing. The outboard 55 inches of the right flap separated from the airplane and was bent and fragmented. The inboard portion of the right flap remained partially attached to the airframe. Approximately 30 inches of the trailing edge tubing of the right flap was bent around the propeller flange. The aileron control tubing was broken in several locations consistent with impact damage.

The fuselage between the wing and aft to the empennage was unremarkable. The fuselage was buckled and bent up at the empennage attach point. The empennage included the horizontal stabilizer, the vertical stabilizer, the elevator, and rudder. The vertical stabilizer, rudder, and elevator were unremarkable. The rudder control cables were continuous from the cabin, aft to the rudder control. The right horizontal stabilizer was unremarkable. Grass and dirt were embedded between the elevator and horizontal stabilizer on the left side. The outboard tip of the left horizontal stabilizer was cracked. The left horizontal stabilizer was otherwise unremarkable.

The left wing included the left aileron, left flap, left fuel tank, and left engine. The leading edge of the left wing was crushed aft and bent down. Tubing within the wing was crushed and broken. Both the top and leading edge of the left wing were covered with dirt. The left aileron remained attached. Aileron control rods were continuous from the aileron inboard to the wing root. The cables were then continuous from the wing root, to the cabin. The engine remained attached to the wing and was unremarkable. The left flap separated partially from the wing and was bent up and buckled at mid span.


The autopsy was performed by a Forensic Pathology Consultant at McKee Medical Center, Loveland, Colorado, on May 29, 2012, as authorized by the Morgan County Coroner’s office. The autopsy concluded that the cause of death was “multiple trauma” and the report listed the specific injuries. Results were negative for all toxicological tests conducted. Specimens were not sent to The FAA’s Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for testing.


The airplane was examined by investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, Lockwood Aircraft Corp., and Rotech Flight Safety Inc. Both the left and right engines were examined. No external anomalies or failures were noted that would have precluded either engine from producing power. Both engines started without hesitation and ran for several minutes without issues.

The flight control continuity for the right aileron was examined through the impact damage and found to be continuous. Flight control continuity for the left aileron was confirmed. Elevator continuity was confirmed from the cabin, aft to the elevator control.

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