Saturday, April 28, 2012

Kitfox Series 5, N77LR: Accident occurred Saturday, April 28, 2012 in Port Canaveral, Florida

NTSB Identification: ERA12LA307 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, April 28, 2012 in Port Canaveral, FL
Aircraft: RICE LEO B KITFOX SERIES 5, registration: N77LR
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On April 28, 2012, about 1410 eastern daylight time, an experimental, amateur-built Kitfox Series 5, N77LR, impacted the Atlantic Ocean and subsequently sank approximately 3 miles offshore of Port Canaveral, Florida. The certificated private pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed Merritt Island Airport (COI), Merritt Island, Florida, about 1300. The business flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the pilot, he owned and operated an aerial photography business and the purpose of the flight was to photograph boats. After approximately one hour of flying, at an altitude of 100 feet and an airspeed of 65-70 mph with the wing flaps fully extended, the elevator control "bound up." The pilot attempted to manipulate the control stick, and stated that he felt "something move and push up" under his seat, but was unable to regain elevator control. He stated that the airplane's aileron and rudder controls, as well as the engine, operated normally until impact. The airplane contacted the water in a wings-level attitude and began to sink. The pilot egressed and was retrieved from the water by a nearby boat.

An underwater search to locate the airplane was initiated shortly after it sank. A diver observed some debris in the water, including a piece of the airplane's propeller blade, but reported poor underwater visibility, and could not locate the fuselage. A second search, performed the day after the accident, was also unsuccessful in locating the airplane.

The Coast Guard has confirmed that a plane crashed into water at 2:10 p.m. today near Port Canaveral.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Dwayne Matthews, the Coast Guard officer on duty today, said that the pilot of the aircraft was rescued by a local boater who happened to be in the area of the crash.

The crash occurred about three miles off of the Port Canaveral beach line, Matthews said.

The model of the aircraft, as well as a cause for the crash, has not yet been determined. Matthews also said that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission responded along with the Coast Guard.

Matthews said that a fishing tournament being held today in Port Canaveral helped to bring boat traffic to the area and help to rescue the pilot.

“Usually, the fishing tournament promotes a lot more boating activity in the port than normal,” Matthews said.

Divers attempted to recover the aircraft today, but were unable to locate it.

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