Friday, July 28, 2017

Aerofab Inc. Lake LA-4-250, N1400P: Fatal accident occurred July 27, 2017 in Oshkosh, Winnebago County, Wisconsin

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

Additional participating entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

http://registry.faa.gov/N1400P


NTSB Identification: CEN17FA287 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, July 27, 2017 in Oshkosh, WI
Aircraft: AEROFAB INC LAKE LA 4 250, registration: N1400P
Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Minor.

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 July 27, 2017, at 1943 central daylight time, an Aerofab INC. Lake LA-4-250 amphibious airplane, N1400P, impacted water during takeoff. The pilot and one passenger were fatally injured, and the pilot rated passenger received minor injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to, and operated by a private individual as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site about the time of the accident, and the flight was operated without a flight plan. The flight was originating from Vette/Blust Seaplane Base (96WI), Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and its destination was Southwest Regional Airport (MML), Marshall, Minnesota.

The airplane arrived at 96WI about 1230 on the day of the accident. The airplane landed on Lake Winnebago to the south of the seaplane base and the pilot requested assistance during taxi because the airplane was taking on water in the left wing sponson. Boats were utilized to assist the airplane to the dock area. The left wing sponson was subsequently drained of water and the sponson fuel tank, which was a separate tank isolated inside the sponson, was also emptied. The airplane was subsequently moored and the airplane appeared to sit normally in the water. No additional issues were noted with the airplane or sponson taking on water prior to the airplane departing for the accident flight.

Personnel present at 96WI expressed concern to the pilot regarding the rough water conditions later in the afternoon. At one point the pilot was taken out on the lake by boat to observe the conditions on the lake. A witness onboard the boat described the waves being 1 ½ to 2 ft at that time. The pilot then asked to be taken back to the dock and to have the airplane fueled. The airplane was refueled, but no fuel was put into either sponson tank. 

The pilot later approached the sea base staff and indicated he was ready for departure. The harbor master towed the seaplane from the dock, through a narrow gap from the base to the bay referred to as "the cut", and into the bay outside the sea base. The pilot told the harbor master he was going to start the engine as the plane was being towed through the cut, and the harbor master held up a finger to indicated not yet and to wait a minute. The pilot reportedly asked him to start the engines several more times as the airplane was still under tow before the tow rope had been disconnected, and the harbor master indicted to him to wait each time. Once the tow ropes were disconnected and the harbor master moved out of the way to the side, the pilot started the airplane engine and the airplane "went to full power within two seconds."

The airplane began its takeoff run immediately from the bay and departed to the northwest. Video of the takeoff showed the airplane porpoised two to three times, the nose rose steeply out of the water, and the airplane rolled to the left and the left wing struck the water. The airplane subsequently spun to the left and the airplane settled back to the right as it turned approximately 180 degrees, and the right wing was driven into the water. The nose of the airplane entered the water and the airplane subsequently started to submerge. The pilot-rated passenger was able to extricate himself from the airplane and the other two occupants were extracted by first responders. Swells in the lake were described as 1 to 1 ½ feet high at the time of the accident. 

Review of video and photo evidence documenting the takeoff revealed the airplane's wing flaps were in the up position during takeoff. The flaps and flap lever were found in the "up" position during examination of the wreckage. The takeoff trim tab was in a position close to, or at, maximum up. The takeoff trim position indicator was within the green band range for takeoff near the neutral position. No preimpact anomalies preventing normal operation of the airplane were noted during the examination of the airframe and engine.


Above photo of the accident aircraft taken right before they headed out on the accident flight. 













Above photo of the accident aircraft taken right before they headed out on the accident flight. 
Diane M. Linker
March 13, 1946 – July 28, 2017

Memorial services celebrating the life of Diane M. Linker, 71, of Sauk Rapids will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, August 7, 2017 at the Daniel Funeral Home Chapel in St. Cloud. Diane passed away unexpectedly on Friday, July 28, 2017.

Visitation will begin at 4:00 p.m. on Monday at the Daniel Funeral Home in St. Cloud.

Diane was born on March 13, 1946 in Tyler, Minnesota to Leslie and Phyllis (Bornitz) Williams. She married Earle Stelling in 1964 and they moved to California where they resided for over twenty years. She returned to Minnesota in 1997. Diane was employed at DBL Labs until retirement.

Diane was an avid flower gardener and mirror collector. She also enjoyed casino trips, playing cards and board games, spending time outdoors and above all treasured time with family and friends; most recently spending time with her companion, Allen on many excursions. She will be remembered for her adventurous spirit, fun sense of humor, love of the color red and of Elvis Presley.

Diane is survived by her children; Kevin (Kris) Stelling of St. Cloud; Lisa Stelling (Meridith Grosse and her son Mathew) of Mounds View; loving companion, Allen Stanlake of St. Martin; brother and sister, Darrell (Linda) Williams of Balaton, Pam Quilici of Bloomington; and niece, Dawn Hutson of Maryland.

She was preceded in death by her parents; former husband, Earle; sister, Delores Williams.

Ray Johnson
December 28, 1932 - July 31, 2017


MARSHALL — Ray Johnson, 84, of Marshall passed away on Monday, July 31, 2017, in Wisconsin, as the result of an aviation accident. Since Ray loved a good fly-in breakfast, funeral services are 10 a.m. Saturday at the Southwest Minnesota Regional Airport – Ryan Field Marshall (KMML) in Marshall with a pancake breakfast to follow. Burial will be in the Marshall Cemetery, Marshall. Fellow pilots are invited to fly in to celebrate Ray’s life — airplane parking will be available.

Visitation will be from 4-8 p.m. today at Living Word Lutheran Church in Marshall. A prayer service is scheduled for 7 p.m. Visitation will continue one hour prior to the service Saturday at the Airport. Military honors are by Marshall American Legion, Post 113.

Raymond Carlton Johnson, Jr. was born Dec 28, 1932, in New Ulm to Raymond and Ruth (Habberstad) Johnson. He was baptized and confirmed at the Brighton Methodist Church and grew in faith to a young man on the family farm, “Home Acres” near Klossner.

Eager to follow his older brothers in service to their country, Ray joined the Minnesota National Guard in 1949, even before graduating from New Ulm High School in 1950. He was activated in January 1951, and served during the Korean war in Korea.

Ray was honorably discharged from the army in March of 1953. He headed to Minneapolis with a buddy to get a job and worked as an office machine repairman for several months. Growing weary of the city, he decided to rejoin his brothers and father in operation of the family farm. Shortly thereafter, he met the love of his life, Marlys Minnie Thormodson. They were united in marriage on June 23, 1956. Five children were born to them: Melanie, Melissa, Ross, Paul, and Peter. The couple shared over 61 years of marriage together.

Ray initially farmed for six years and during that time he developed a passion for aviation, taking his first flying lesson in 1958. He bought his first airplane in 1958 and, in 1962, he moved his young and growing family to Tracy, where he established Tracy Air Service. While there, Ray and Marlys were active at Tracy Lutheran Church, raising their children in the faith and Ray served on the church council and other church capacities. In 1974, Ray and Marlys purchased the aviation business in Marshall and established their life in Marshall where they currently resided. It was in Marshall that their aviation business, Midwest Aviation, flourished and evolved into larger operations.

Ray’s business encompassed multiple areas of aviation: flight instruction – wherein he shared his passion and dedication to fledgling pilots, air charter, crop spraying, scheduled flight service, maintenance shop, airport base operator, and aircraft sales were all aspects of his business. Additionally, Ray was a designated FAA pilot examiner for over 46 years, certifying nearly 3,000 pilots. Ray personally logged over 42,000 hours of flight time. After successfully operating and promoting aviation for 50-plus years, Ray was honored by being inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame in 2013.

Ray and Marlys belonged to, and are charter members of Living Word Lutheran Church in Marshall. Ray was a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Minnesota Trades Association, Minnesota Aerial Applicators Association, Minnesota Seaplane Pilots, Lake Amphibious Flyers Club, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, and Experimental Aircraft Association.

Ray lived a faith-filled life with devotion to God and his family. He will be deeply missed by family and the large flying community he helped to foster.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Marlys Johnson of Marshall; five children, Melanie Johnson (Ken Sporre) of St. James, Melissa (and Dave) Werpy of Miltona, Ross Johnson of Stillwater, Paul (and Jenell) Johnson of Dayton, Pete (and Lynne) Johnson of Lynd; 10 grandchildren, Tiffany (Lucus) Sandbo of St. James, Ashley (and Bob “Rob”) Gohr of Mountain Lake, Seth Werpy of Miltona, Jonas (and Betsy) Werpy of Lino Lakes, Andrea (and Adam) Walstrom of St. Louis Park, Antonio Delfino of St. Paul, Jennifer Johnson of Dayton, Eric (and Lauren Stafne) Johnson of New Hope, Abby Johnson of Lynd, Natalie Johnson of Lynd; nine great-grandchildren; brother, Merton Johnson of Mankato; nieces, nephews, other relatives, and many friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Raymond and Ruth Johnson; and four siblings: Ruthie Johnson, Dorothy Gifford, Calvin Johnson, and Karen Gagen.

He flies with angels now … Blessed be his memory.

In lieu of flowers, Memorials preferred to: First Responders – City of Oshkosh Fire Department; Mercy Medical Center – Oshkosh, Wis.; and Living Word Lutheran Church – Marshall. Memorials received by the family will be directed similarly. Arrangements by Hamilton Funeral Home Marshall, Minnesota.




















OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - Update: Officials have identified the woman who died on Thursday in the seaplane crash on Lake Winnebago.

The Winnebago County Sheriff's office says 71-year-old Diane M. Linker of Sauk Rapids Minnesota died in the crash.

Officials did not provide any new information about the other two occupants injured in the plane crash.

Authorities say three people from Minnesota were on the Lake Renegade seaplane, leaving to return to Minnesota. Winnebago County Sheriff's Office responded to the incident at 7:45 p.m. on Thursday.

Witnesses tell Action 2 News the plane was taking off but barely left the water when it tipped over near seaplane base. Winnebago County Sheriff's Lt. David Roth said the water was choppy and the plane was possibly taken over by a bigger wave and ended up flipping over.

Two people were trapped on the plane. The third was able to get out when the door opened in the crash. Two suffered critical injuries; the third person's injuries are described as "not life-threatening."

One of the first responders -- a diver, we're told -- suffered a cut to the hand and a burn from fuel in the water.

The sheriff's office estimate the plane was going about 70 knots (80 miles per hour) when it crashed.

Photos during the rescue show the plane almost completely submerged. Authorities say the plane will remain in the water until Friday morning.

EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski said the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash.

He also said flights are still going in and out of the seabase and no delays due to the crash. Knapinski said the last incident on the lake in relation to the EAA AirVenture was July 2011, when a plane traveling from event had engine issues over the lake and ended up crashing into Lake Winnebago. It killed the two people on board.

Police have blocked off the road to the seaplane base, which is off Highway 45 south of Wittman Regional Airport. The base is used by pilots attending EAA AirVenture.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Oshkosh Fire Department and people from the seaplane base assisted.

NTSB is doing a water investigation. They will be pulling the plane out of the water when they are done and take it to a secure hangar to continue investigating. 





OSHKOSH (WLUK) -- A seaplane has been removed from Lake Winnebago four days after it crashed during EAA AirVenture.

The crash last Thursday fatally injured 71-year-old Diane Linker of Sauk Rapids, Minnesota. The pilot and the other passenger were also injured.

EAA officials said the plane had taken off from the convention's seaplane base when it hit a wave and crashed into the lake.


The crash itself happened off EAA grounds.


Divers worked to pull the seaplane from the muddy depths of Lake Winnebago Monday.


"It made it a little trickier, how they handled the aircraft with the extra weight, the water and mud seeped into the aircraft," said Dan Baker, Investigator, with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).


Baker says recovering the plane took around two hours,"This one was intact, so all they had to do was hook on it, and pull it out."


He continued to explain, that a full crash investigation will now be conducted, "Right now, the plan is to take the aircraft back to a secure storage location on the airfield."


Baker says the agency will be looking at a number of potential causes, including mechanics, experience of the pilot, and environmental conditions, "We take all that, put it together, after we gather all that information, that will give us a pretty clear picture of what happened."


As the wreckage was hauled away, Baker says the quick removal process, will help expedite the investigation,"This was very efficient equipment to do the job, it didn't take very long at all."


NTSB says it will have an update later this week, but the full report could take up to a year to finish.


Story and video ► http://fox11online.com





OSHKOSH - One person has died after the amphibious airplane she was in crashed the night before on Lake Winnebago, authorities confirmed.

A female passenger died Friday as a result of the crash, Winnebago County Chief Deputy Coroner Chris Shea said. Authorities are not releasing the woman's name, pending notification of her family.

The six-seat Lake Renegade carrying three people from Minnesota was going about 80 mph when it hit a “large wave” and overturned, just before 8 p.m. Thursday near the Experimental Aircraft Association's Seaplane Base, just south of Oshkosh, EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski said.

One passenger was able to escape the wreck, while two others were trapped inside, according to the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office. 

Four people were hurt in the incident, including the three Minnesota residents on board the plane and a member of the Winnebago County sheriff's dive team.

One of the people on board was expected to be released from the hospital Friday morning, Knapinski said. The two other victims were in critical condition Thursday night. 

A spokesman for ThedaCare said Friday morning that a ThedaStar helicopter flew one person from the crash to University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison. 

The identities of the plane's pilot and passengers were unknown Friday morning.

The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash. Keith Holloway, a media relations specialist with the NTSB, said Friday that a preliminary report will likely be released within 10 days.

“At this point, we don’t determine the cause of the crash,” Holloway said. 




OSHKOSH, Wis. (WLUK/AP) -- A federal investigator says one person from Minnesota has died and another remains in critical condition after a seaplane accident near EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh.

Investigator Dan Baker of the National Transportation Safety Board says the victim died Friday. Winnebago County Chief Deputy Coroner Chris Shea says the woman was a passenger. Her name was not released.

Baker says a third injured person is out of the hospital.

The seaplane hit a wave upon takeoff before it crashed into Lake Winnebago Thursday night, according to a spokesman for the Experimental Aircraft Association.

The plane was taking off from the seaplane base at EAA, which is holding its annual AirVenture fly-in convention this week in Oshkosh.


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



http://fox11online.com 



WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Wis. (WLUK) - Three people suffered injuries after a seaplane crashed near EAA AirVenture.

Two people are in critical condition and a third received minor injuries.

The crash happened Thursday evening near the seaplane base in Black Wolf. That's just outside Oshkosh.

Emergency vehicles blocked off the road into EAA's seaplane base Thursday. Authorities told FOX 11 News one of the planes flipped over into Lake Winnebago.

"I do know the plane was attempting to take off. Lake Winnebago is rough at this point in time," explained Winnebago County Sheriff's Lt. David Roth.

Video and photos we have show some of the first responders, but do not appear to show the seaplane that went down. That happened farther offshore.

Roth said it's unclear what exactly caused the crash. He told us, however, three people were inside when it went down.

"Two of the occupants were trapped in the plane. One of the occupants was able to get out when the door opened when it crashed. The other two had to be taken out of the plane," Roth explained.

Roth told FOX 11 News a first responder was also hurt.

"He received a cut on the hand and he was burned by the fuel in the water," said the lieutenant.

According to Roth, the people on the plane are all from Minnesota. They were attempting to head back that way when the crash happened.

We're told the FAA and the NTSB are investigating this crash.

Authorities said the plane will likely be removed from the water some time Friday .

Local first responders and the Coast Guard helped with rescue efforts. Divers did get in the water to make sure no one else was in the plane.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Look at that trim tab.

Anonymous said...

Incredible story of heroism by all involved in rescue efforts. Thank you for your service gentlemen. You are kind souls.

Anonymous said...

Is that a "For Sale" sign on the aircraft window?

Anonymous said...

Demo flight?

Doug Trout said...

Hard to know exactly as Oshkosh does require paperwork to be displayed.

Anonymous said...

^ affirmative, correct.

Anonymous said...

I'd almost say the checklist was not done. Look at that trim tab. I don't think that is correct for that plane for takeoff.

Anonymous said...

Re. the earlier speculation concerning the tab...perhaps not.
The tab position may well be normal for takeoff since the Wikipedia picture of the NOAA owned version of this plane is in the exact same position right after takeoff.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Renegade

Anonymous said...

My Buccaneer has tabs on both sides. Do the Renegades only have a tab on one side?

Anonymous said...

That is normal for a renegade trim tab on take off. I have over 1000 hrs in Lakes and you need that nose up trim, especially with 3 people on board. I noticed the flaps more than anything, they are up. Flaps have to be down for take off.

Anonymous said...

No flaps, checklist was not used for sure. Buccaneers and Renegades need flaps on takeoff. Renegade only has one trim tab, counteracts torque on takeoff.

Anonymous said...

As a witness to this horrific event it really should never had happened there were speculations of the aircraft taking on water after the landing and later being pumped out at the docks, after advice of not leaving yet and seeing what may be wrong. The decision was made that they wanted to leave, the water conditions were not the best but doable. The plane actually became slightly airborne before the left wing dipped and flipped the aircraft. There were two volunteers in the water and on scene no more than three mins after the crash took place, and it was one of these two volunteers that were injured in the attempt to free the passengers.

Anonymous said...

For the two volunteers = Absolute savage bravery. The courage it takes to jump in, thinking hey the authorities probably have this, but no YOU two were that day. It's great that heroism like this still exists in the United States of America. 

Anonymous said...

That trim position is normal for a Lake. However, the flaps were not down, and you can see from the elevator position and nose high attitude on the water (first pic) that he's trying to pull it off the water. This is bad...the most critical thing in a Lake on the water is to maintain a level attitude at all times - he likely hit a wake just before the second picture, was already pulling and nose high, and got flung into the air with an extreme nose up attitude with no flaps and airplane unable to fly as a result. At that point he was doomed...

Anonymous said...

Sad that life was lost. They drowned which is even worse. Several bad decisions led to this crash. Water in the plane, flaps not set for takeoff and not listening to others about not taking off. I was not at the sea plane base that day but heard from several professionals that were. A pilot with that many hours should know to use the checklist. But he probably got complacent and didn't take advice from fellow aviators telling him not to takeoff.

Anonymous said...

The flap on the left wing may be down and on the right is up. Airborne the left wing would develop lift and drive the right wing into the water.

mouser485 said...

I have a question about the trim tab. When I use "nose up" trim on the 172, the trim tab actually moves down which cause the elevator to be deflected upward thus tending to raise the nose of the plane. Since that trim tab is up on the seaplane wouldn't it deflect the elevator down thus causing the nose to push downward ?

Jim B said...


Sad ending. Too many compromises.

That bird was already sitting too low in the water at the dock. I do not see the waterline marks. I would offer it was not airworthy.

The flaps not down in the correct position was another serious error. The clean wing stalls at a higher speed.

On breaking the water it likely there was a serious aft CG with the water issue and pitched up rapidly. The wing that stalled first would be the one to go into water first.

The water looks relatively smooth. I would not blame a wave.

Rest in peace friends.





Anonymous said...

Way too much pitch/over-rotation at liftoff.

Anonymous said...

As a Lake owner and pilot having over 1700 hours in type, I see way too much uninformed speculation here that does not serve anybody well. A Lake is not a Cessna and has totally different dynamics. Likewise for the trim system. I have my own thoughts about the cause of the accident but I will keep them private and wait for the NTSB report and I urge others to refrain from speculating.

I knew Ray Johnson and he was a wonderful man who will be sorely missed. Rest In peace Ray, we love you.

Anonymous said...

This message is for the last commenter - And, what about Diane? This wonderful, loving, caring woman did not deserve to be killed in such vicious smothering way in a coffin-like plane with a obstinate pilot in command.

Who the hell are you tell the public visitors of this aviation blog to "refrain from speculating"!?!? We, pilots and aircraft owners, learn from our mistakes, and we use this aviation site to investigate practices and procedures, discuss openly the incidents/accidents, for our safe flights. And look forward to insight (comments) from other pilots/aircraft owners, whether you like it or not.

This isn't the Lake Amphibian Club, where you pay $62.00 and get to bully pilots and aircraft owners around. This is a volunteer aviation blog.

"As a Lake owner and pilot having over 1700 hours in type, I see way too much uninformed speculation here that does not serve anybody well. A Lake is not a Cessna and has totally different dynamics. Likewise for the trim system. I have my own thoughts about the cause of the accident but I will keep them private and wait for the NTSB report and I urge others to refrain from speculating. I knew Ray Johnson and he was a wonderful man who will be sorely missed. Rest In peace Ray, we love you."

Doug Trout said...

Amen...

I find it funny how many cowards show up here under the cloak of anonymity thinking they can tell others to shut up with their speculation. An anonymous Lake Owner is equivalent of me having a 747 in my back yard.

The mere fact there were that many people on the dock begging them not to leave (you can see them in my pictures) should tell what you need to know about your friend. You may feel the need to protect his good name here but the facts established so far are the facts. He may have been a wonderful man who made a series of terrible mistakes.

When have you ever witnessed a pilot getting talked to by a group of people begging him not to depart?

Anonymous said...

LOL! "wait for the NTSB report". LOL!

I have zero time or interest in waiting years, and I do mean years, for the NTSB final determination. Instead, I gravitate toward open and transparent communication (commentary) from folks who fly either professionally and/or recreation on the how's and why's the aircraft crashed.... right here and current.

Your pal, Ray, he risked the lives of others. Negligence = lawsuits.

Anonymous said...

Just a few of the numerous headlines about Ray's aviator skills:

"Pilot killed in Lake Winnebago plane crash took off despite rough water warning"

"Pilot Was Warned of Rough Water Before Crash"

"NTSB: Seaplane pilot was warned of rough water before crash"

Doug Trout said...

THE FIVE HAZARDOUS ATTITUDES

1. Anti-Authority:
"Don't tell me."

This attitude is found in people who do not like anyone telling them what to do. In a sense, they are saying, "No one can tell me what to do." They may be resentful of having someone tell themwhat to do, or may regard rules, regulations, and procedures as silly or unnecessary. However, itis always your prerogative to question authority if you feel it is in error.

2. Impulsivity:
"Do it quickly."

This is the attitude of people who frequently feel the need to do something, anything, immediately. They do not stop to think about what they are about to do; they do not select the best alternative, and they do the first thing that comes to mind.

3. Invulnerability:
"It won't happen to me."

Many people feel that accidents happen to others, but never to them. They know accidents can happen, and they know that anyone can be affected. They never really feel or believe that they will be personally involved. Pilots who think this way are more likely to take chances and increase risk.

4. Macho:
"I can do it."

Pilots who are always trying to prove that they are better than anyone else are thinking, "I can do it –I'll show them." Pilots with this type of attitude will try to prove themselves by taking risks in order to impress others. While this pattern is thought to be a male characteristic, women are equally susceptible.

5. Resignation:
"What's the use?"

Pilots who think, "What's the use?" do not see themselves as being able to make a great deal of difference in what happens to them. When things go well, the pilot is apt to think that it is good luck. When things go badly, the pilot may feel that someone is out to get me, or attribute it to bad luck. The pilot will leave the action to others, for better or worse. Sometimes, such pilots will even go along with unreasonable requests just to be a "nice guy."


From the NSTB initial report.

The airplane arrived at 96WI about 1230 on the day of the accident. The airplane landed on Lake Winnebago to the south of the seaplane base and the pilot requested assistance during taxi because the airplane was taking on water in the left wing sponson. Boats were utilized to assist the airplane to the dock area. The left wing sponson was subsequently drained of water and the sponson fuel tank, which was a separate tank isolated inside the sponson, was also emptied. The airplane was subsequently moored and the airplane appeared to sit normally in the water. No additional issues were noted with the airplane or sponson taking on water prior to the airplane departing for the accident flight.

Personnel present at 96WI expressed concern to the pilot regarding the rough water conditions later in the afternoon. At one point the pilot was taken out on the lake by boat to observe the conditions on the lake. A witness onboard the boat described the waves being 1 ½ to 2 ft at that time. The pilot then asked to be taken back to the dock and to have the airplane fueled. The airplane was refueled, but no fuel was put into either sponson tank.

The pilot later approached the sea base staff and indicated he was ready for departure. The harbor master towed the seaplane from the dock, through a narrow gap from the base to the bay referred to as "the cut", and into the bay outside the sea base. The pilot told the harbor master he was going to start the engine as the plane was being towed through the cut, and the harbor master held up a finger to indicated not yet and to wait a minute. The pilot reportedly asked him to start the engines several more times as the airplane was still under tow before the tow rope had been disconnected, and the harbor master indicted to him to wait each time. Once the tow ropes were disconnected and the harbor master moved out of the way to the side, the pilot started the airplane engine and the airplane "went to full power within two seconds."

Gary Silver said...

The aircraft at the dock appears to me to be about the right depth in the water. These aircraft have about 14-18 inches of freeboard at the door combing based on loading. Usually your but is below the waterline when seated. This is typical of most Lakes Flying boats appear to be deep in the water compared to float planes. I recall the first time I saw a Grumman Mallard ramp into the water from land, I couldn't believe how deep it sat in the water. I thought it was going to sink, but obviously it didn't.

The trim tab in the pictures is in the proper position for takeoff. The high center of thrust from the pylon mounted engine tries to push the nose over at takeoff power (unlike a tractor engine mounted aircraft) and thus there needs to be a lot of nose up trim at high power settings.

The trim tab is fixed to the horizontal stabilizer and has induced airflow from the prop wash as well as from forward speed. It is not fixed to the elevator itself like the trim tab fixed to the elevator on other types of aircraft.

Water aircraft (float planes or flying boats) need precise attitude control when taking off from and alighting on the water. Extremes of attitude (as seen in one of the pictures) are not tolerated in water operations. To my view, in all the pictures there is no indication that either flap was extended, (no evidence of asymmetric flap extension as one poster envisioned). This aircraft with flaps (normal ops) will fly at 55-60 knots. Density altitude wouldn't seem to be a factor, rough water is very uncomfortable but this to me seems to be more of a lack of flaps with inadequate attitude control rather than directly related to the rough water. Speculation of course.

Any way you look at it this was tragic and may all those involved recover and/or rest in peace.

Jim B said...

Nice post Gary.

Good to have a technically oriented and experienced person comment.

Jim

Anonymous said...

I am not an experienced Lake pilot, but I did read a book about it. There is a technique for rough water takeoffs where the takeoff run is started with flaps up, as the wing is so low on a Lake that waves slapping against the flaps is hard on them. Once the plane is up on the step, then flaps are lowered for takeoff.

Anonymous said...

Copilot (survivor) is/was rated to fly this plane also.