Monday, September 19, 2016

Grumman G-44 Widgeon, N111W : Accident occurred September 17, 2016 on Clear Lake, Lake County, California

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Sacramento FSDO-25

NTSB Identification: GAA16CA509
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, September 17, 2016 in Lakeport, CA
Aircraft: GRUMMAN G44, registration: N111W
Injuries: 2 Minor.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot of an amphibious airplane reported that he departed a hard surfaced runway and flew to a lake about 3 nautical miles away. He further reported that after takeoff he failed to retract the landing gear and during the touchdown on the lake, the airplane nosed over. The pilot reported that he did not use a checklist during the flight.

The fuselage and vertical stabilizer sustained substantial damage. 

The pilot reported no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

An amphibian aircraft with two people on board crashed Saturday morning into the waters of Clear Lake and spectators on hand for an air rally rushed to scene, pulling the two occupants to safety. The pilot and passenger, both men, escaped with what the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said were non-life threatening injuries.

A witness said one of the men appeared to have suffered a broken leg. The names of the pilot and passenger were not immediately available.

Allen Kenitzer, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said in an email the crash occurred under “unknown circumstances.” He said the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board would investigate.

The plane that crashed was involved in the Clear Lake Seaplane Splash In, an annual seaplane rally open to the public, with festivities based in Lakeport, according to a description on the website of the Lakeport Main Street Association.

Sebastopol resident Jessica Kilcullen said she was on a boat in the lake with a friends and family watching the seaplane activity when they noticed an unusually large splash. They saw other boats travel in that direction and followed them to investigate.

“We just saw the tip of the plane straight up and down, bobbing in the lake,” Kilcullen said.

Kilcullen said spectators from other boats retrieved the people inside the plane. One of them appeared to have a severely broken leg, she said. The other had suffered several deep cuts to his face.

The seaplane event offered aerial demonstrations, music and more, according to the Lakeport Main Street Association. Lake County News reported that the annual gathering started in 1979.

The Sheriff’s Office did not immediately return calls about the crash and did not disclose what happened to the plane after the rescue.

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