Sunday, June 22, 2014

Loss of Control in Flight: Christen A-1 Husky, N436C; accident occurred June 22, 2014 at Tampa Executive Airport (KVDF), Hillsborough County, Florida

Ki L. Martin, 53

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Tampa, Florida

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Location: Tampa, FL
Accident Number: ERA14LA305
Date & Time: 06/22/2014, 1545 EDT
Registration: N436C
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal


Witnesses reported seeing the airplane take off from a grassy area adjacent to the runway. Witness statements and a video revealed that, immediately after takeoff, the airplane entered a steep left turn about 30 ft above ground level. The airplane then turned about 270 degrees, with continuous engine noise, before descending nose down into the ground. Examination of the wreckage did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation. The pilot did not have his five-point harness buckled during the flight. Although the pilot’s widow reported that the pilot probably crashed the airplane on purpose because they had been separated about 1 year and she had moved out of their residence 4 days before the accident, it could not be determined if the accident occurred as a result of an intentional act by the pilot.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s failure to maintain airplane control during initial climb after takeoff, which resulted in an uncontrolled descent into the ground.


Lateral/bank control - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)

Factual Information

On June 22, 2014, about 1545 eastern daylight time, a Christen Industries Inc. A-1 (Husky), N436C, operated by a private individual, was substantially damaged during takeoff at Tampa Executive Airport (VDF), Tampa, Florida. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the planned local flight.

Two witnesses, who worked at the airport, were standing outside and watched the accident takeoff. They stated that the airplane departed on the grass adjacent to runway 23. Immediately after takeoff, about 30 feet above ground level, the airplane entered a steep left bank turn. The airplane then turned about 270 degrees, before the nose dropped and it impacted the ramp area left wing and nose low. One of the witnesses added that the engine noise was loud during the turn. She also captured a video of the accident takeoff, which was forwarded to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Laboratory, Washington, D.C. Review of the video confirmed the witness statements regarding the steep left bank and sound of continuous engine noise.

The airplane came to rest upright on the tarmac. Examination of the wreckage by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the three wooden propeller blades had separated from the hub. The engine was partially separated from the airframe and canted right. Both wing outboard leading edges were impact damaged and the flaps were partially extended. The inspector was able to confirm flight control continuity from the elevator, rudder, and right aileron to the cockpit area. Left aileron continuity could not be confirmed due to impact damage. The inspector also noted that the pilot's five-point harness was intact and unbuckled. He confirmed with witnesses that the harness was not buckled when the pilot was recovered from the wreckage. The inspector added that when law enforcement notified the pilot's widow, she replied that the pilot had probably crashed on purpose as they had been separated for about 1 year and she moved out of their residence 4 days prior to the accident.

Review of maintenance records revealed that the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on December 28, 2013, at a total airframe and engine time of 1,250 hours. The engine had operated 817 hours since major overhaul at the time of the inspection. The pilot's logbook was not recovered. He reported 3,600 total hours of flight experience on his most recent application for an FAA second-class medical certificate, which was issued on March 27, 2013.

An autopsy was performed on the pilot on June 23, 2014, by the State of Florida District 13 Medical Examiner's Office, Tampa, Florida. The cause of death was noted as due to blunt impact to the head and neck. Toxicological testing was performed on the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The test results were negative for drugs, ethanol, and carbon monoxide.

History of Flight

Loss of control in flight (Defining event)

Uncontrolled descent
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT) 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 53
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 03/23/2013
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 3600 hours (Total, all aircraft), 999999 hours (Total, this make and model)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N436C
Model/Series: A 1
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal; Utility
Serial Number: 1063
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 12/28/2013, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1800 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 1250 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-360
Registered Owner: MARTIN KI
Rated Power: 180 hp
Operator: MARTIN KI
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: TPF, 8 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1555 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 210°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 7 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 270°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.94 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 33°C / 22°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Tampa, FL (VDF)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Tampa, FL (VDF)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1545 EDT
Type of Airspace:

Airport Information

Airport: Tampa Executive Airport (VDF)
Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 21 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Unknown
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 28.013889, -82.345000 (est)

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