Monday, April 3, 2017

Buckeye Dream Machine, N4017L: Fatal accident occurred April 02, 2017 in Knoxville, Tennessee

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:  
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Nashville, Tennessee

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report -  National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA144
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, April 02, 2017 in Knoxville, TN
Aircraft: BUCKEYE AVIATION DREAM MACHINE, registration: N4017L
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.

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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On April 2, 2017, about 1532 eastern daylight time, a Buckeye Aviation Dream Machine, N4017L, collided with trees and terrain near Knoxville, Tennessee. The powered parachute was substantially damaged. The sport pilot was fatally injured, and one passenger was seriously injured. The powered parachute was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Day, visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local, personal flight. The flight originated at a private, grass airstrip about 1444.

The passenger reported that the preflight portion of the flight was uneventful. The takeoff was accomplished on a grass airstrip and the flight departed to the west. About 45 minutes later, the pilot overflew the passenger's residence. Subsequently, the pilot maneuvered the powered parachute to the east, over rising terrain and trees. The aircraft did not seem to be climbing quickly enough to clear the trees and the landing gear struck about three trees before the aircraft dropped into the woods, striking tree limbs on the way down. The passenger egressed his seat; however, he was unable to walk and was met by first responders and transported to a local hospital. The passenger further stated that he was not aware of any problems with the engine prior to the accident.

All structure and components of the powered parachute were accounted for at the accident site. The powered parachute was found in the upright position in a forested area. There was no fire. The landing gear remained attached to the frame. The tubular frame was buckled or bent in several places. The parachute and lines were adjacent to the airframe, and were entangled with broken tree branches. Continuity from the parachute to the cockpit flight controls was established. Both occupants were wearing helmets at the time of the accident and an intercom system was installed.

The engine mounts were broken. The three-bladed composite propeller remained attached to the engine, and the outer sections of each blade were broken and splintered. Continuity from the cockpit controls to the engine was established. The 8-gallon fuel tank contained about 4 gallons of fuel.

The pilot, who was seated in the front cockpit seat, held a sport pilot certificate. He did not hold a Federal Aviation Administration medical certificate. According to his pilot logbook, he had logged about 90 hours of total flight experience, all in Buckeye powered parachutes.

The single-engine, tandem-cockpit powered parachute incorporated a fixed, tricycle landing gear. It was equipped with a Rotax 582-series, two-stroke, twin-cylinder reciprocating engine rated at 66 horsepower. Examination of maintenance records revealed that it was built in 2005 and accumulated about 139 hours since new.

The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report into a fatal crash involving a powered parachute in Knox County.  

Pilot Stanley Decoursey, 58, died as a result of the April 2 crash into a wooded area near Barharbor Way in Farragut. His passenger, 54-year-old Kenneth Atkins, suffered serious injuries, according to our sister affiliate WBIR. 

The flight began around 2:44 p.m. from a private, grass airstrip. 

According to the NTSB report, about 45 minutes into the flight Decoursey overflew Atkins' home and then started maneuvering the aircraft to the east, over rising terrain and trees.

The powered parachute didn't seem to be climbing quickly enough to clear the trees and its landing gear hit about three trees before dropping into the woods, striking tree limbs on the way down, the NTSB report explained.  

Atkins was able to get out of his seat, but couldn't walk. First responders found him at the scene and transported him to the hospital. 

He told the NTSB that he wasn't aware of any problems with the engine before the accident.

Investigators said the aircraft was found in an upright position in a forested area and the landing gear remained attached to the frame. They noted there hadn't been any fire. The parachute and lines were adjacent to the frame and entangled with broken tree branches. 

The aircraft was a Buckeye Aviation Dream Machine, which is a single-engine, tandem-cockpit powered parachute with a fixed, tricycle landing gear. Maintenance records revealed it was built in 2004 and had about 139 hours of use since then. 

Decoursey held a sport pilot certificate, which is required to fly a powered parachute with a passenger. He did not have a Federal Aviation Administration medical certificate. 

He had logged about 90 hours of total flight experience in Buckeye powered parachutes, according to his pilot logbook.

Both men were wearing a helmet.

Stanley Decoursey, 58, of Powell, was pronounced dead at the University of Tennessee Medical Center on Sunday, according to a Facebook post by the sheriff's office Monday morning.

Decoursey was the pilot of a paraglider that crashed in the woods north of 11322 Barharbor Way near Farragut at around 4 p.m. Sunday.

Both Decoursey and a passenger, 54-year-old Kenneth Atkins of Knoxville, were transported to the UT Medical Center following the crash. Decoursey was transported via Rural/Metro ambulance while Atkins was taken by Lifestar helicopter and remained at the hospital Monday, according to the sheriff's office.

Atkins was listed Monday in stable condition, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

Story and video:

KNOXVILLE - The Knoxville powered parachute community is mourning the loss of a friend.

Knox County Sheriff’s Office said Stanley Decoursey, 58, of Powell, died after his powered parachute crashed on Sunday. Decoursey was the pilot. His passenger Kenneth Atkins, 54, was hurt and remains at UT Medical Center.

Witnesses reported seeing a paraglider flying low before crashing into a wooded area around 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon near Barhabor Way, by Turkey Creek Road.

Eric Majni and Rocky Crawford flew with Decoursey about once a week. On Sunday, Decoursey sent out a text message to see if his friends were going flying on such a beautiful day.

"That was his last communication with the group," Crawford said.

"We're all just kind of in shock really," Majni said.

The group of guys have been flying powered parachutes for more than 20 years. About a year and half ago, Decoursey joined the group when he started flying.

"He was a new pilot that had a passion for the sport. We'd go up once a week or every other week, but he was flying every other day," Crawford said.

On Sunday afternoon, Manji and Decoursey were up in the air at the same time.

"He actually lifted off before we got to the field. He headed west and we went north," Manji said. "We saw Lifestar come downtown and a short time later had some texts that there was an accident so we had a pretty good idea it was Stan," he added.

The two men said Decoursey’s death will change the way they fly.

"It definitely makes you aware of the dangers involved and it makes you be more careful," Majni said.

But they know Decoursey would want them to keep taking off.

“He wouldn't want us to stop," Crawford said, "Even though it's tragic and it's absolutely tragic, he was doing what he loved."

Crawford and Majni said Decoursey was a qualified pilot. He had all the proper training and was certified to fly with a passenger.

To fly a single seat power parachute you don't have to have a license. To fly with a passenger, as Decoursey was, you must have a sport pilot's license. His friends said that is what he had.           

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

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