Saturday, July 8, 2017

Quicksilver Sport MXII, N2812, Sky Knights Flight Club: Fatal accident occurred July 08, 2017 in Point Mugu, Ventura County, California

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Van Nuys, California

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Sky Knights Flight Club:

NTSB Identification: WPR17FA146

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 08, 2017 in Point Mugu, CA
Aircraft: CHICCO MIGUEL E QUICKSILVER SPORT II, registration: N2812
Injuries: 1 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 8, 2017, about 1647 Pacific daylight time, an experimental light sport Quicksilver Sport MXII aircraft, N2812, sustained unknown damage when it ditched in the Pacific Ocean just offshore near Pt. Mugu, California. The two pilots on board escaped the aircraft before it sank. One pilot successfully made it to shore, but the other pilot died before he reached the shore. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed.

According to the surviving pilot, he and the other pilot were both members of the Sky Knights Flight Club, which owned the aircraft, and which was based at Camarillo Airport (CMA) Camarillo, California. Both he and the CFI were qualified by the club to operate the aircraft on their own. The club also owned two other experimental light sport aircraft. These were a Quicksilver Sport MXIIS aircraft, N1712, and a Quicksilver MXL single place aircraft, N7712. On the day of the accident, a total of five persons, including the two accident pilots, planned to fly the three aircraft in loose formation south to the shoreline, and then proceed southeast from there for a local flight.

The aircraft was equipped with side-by-side seats and dual controls. According to the surviving pilot, he took the left seat and the other pilot, who was a certificated flight instructor (CFI), took the right seat, but this was not an instructional flight. They departed CMA via the "southeast pattern," which is one of three pre-specified routes to exit the CMA traffic area. They departed with about 10 gallons of fuel on board, and the non-CFI was the pilot flying. He estimated that it took about 15 minutes to reach the shoreline, which was about 7 miles south of CMA. At the shoreline, the three aircraft turned left, which put the shoreline off their left side.

Shortly after they passed a large rock outcrop known as "Mugu Rock," the pilot felt a "skip" in the engine. At that time, they were cruising off the shoreline, above the ocean, at an altitude of about 300 feet. The skip repeated a few times, and the pilot then asked the CFI whether he felt it too; the CFI replied in the affirmative. They decided to reverse course and return to CMA, and also advised the other two aircraft of their situation and intentions. They reversed course, the engine irregularity continued, and the two agreed that they should climb to gain altitude in case the situation deteriorated. At that time the pilot advanced the throttle to climb, but the rpm only went to about 5,900, instead of the desired target value of 6,100 to 6,300 rpm. The pilot asked the CFI to advance his throttle to try to obtain more rpm. The CFI pushed on the throttle, but was unable to increase the rpm above 5,900. The rpm was then observed to be slowly decreasing. The aircraft could not climb, and then became unable to maintain altitude. Due to their different experience levels, they agreed that the CFI should now become the flying pilot, and a transfer of control was effected.

The rpm continued to decrease slowly, over a period of 4 to 5 minutes, and it became apparent that they would have to conduct a forced landing. Because the coastline was rocky, and Pacific Coast Highway was crowded with traffic, they realized that they would have to continue flight to reach a sandy beach, or else put the aircraft in the water.

The continued decrease in rpm and lack of a suitable landing location forced them to ditch just offshore. The aircraft touched down slowly and under control, and remained afloat. The two occupants both successfully escaped the aircraft, and stayed with the aircraft until it began to sink. They then began swimming to shore, which was about 200 feet away. The pilot was ahead of the CFI, and they maintained verbal contact as they made their way to shore. The pilot kept verbally checking on the CFI; initially the CFI said he was fine, but later during the swim the CFI said that he was "getting tired." The pilot reached the shore and climbed out onto a rock, and then turned to see that the CFI was unresponsive and face down in the water. A bystander swam to and pulled the CFI from the water, but the CFI was unable to be resuscitated by the pilot and bystander, or by the paramedics who arrived shortly thereafter.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) information indicated that the aircraft was manufactured in 2001, and was equipped with a Rotax 503 DCDI series engine. Review of the maintenance records indicated that the most recent annual condition inspection was completed in January 2017, when the airframe had a total time (TT) in service of about 3,111 hours, and the engine had a time since major overhaul of 349 hours.

Photographs showed that the aircraft appeared to remain intact after it impacted, and then submerged in, the water. The morning after the accident, the aircraft was discovered to have been washed ashore. As a consequence of the rocky coast and wave action, the airframe and engine incurred significant damage. The aircraft was recovered later that morning, and transported to CMA for examination by NTSB and FAA personnel.

The 1656 automated weather observation from Point Mugu Naval Air Station, located about 3 miles northwest of the accident site, included winds from 260 degrees at 8 knots, visibility 9 miles, few clouds at 6,500 feet, temperature 25 degrees C, dew point 17 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.81 inches of mercury.

Officials from the Ventura County Medical Examiner's office released information about why a man died after an ultralight aircraft crash in July.

William Watson, 56, of Agoura Hills, survived the July 9 crash landing on the water near Mugu Rock but drowned as he made his way to shore that afternoon, officials said Wednesday.

Zeb Dunn, a deputy medical examiner, said Watson did not suffer injuries in the crash.

The aircraft carried two pilots — Watson and a man in his mid-50s, officials said.

According to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board released last month, the surviving pilot told investigators that he felt a skip in the engine during the flight, at which point the two men attempted to return to Camarillo Airport, where they had taken off.

The aircraft was unable to do so, and they had to make a water landing, the man said.

The survivor told investigators the aircraft touched down in the water, and he and Watson began to swim toward the shoreline about 200 feet away.

Watson and the survivor spoke during their swim, the man said, with Watson allegedly saying he was fine.

However, the survivor told investigators that later on, Watson had indicated "he was 'getting tired.'"

The other pilot looked back toward the ocean after he reached the shoreline, he said, at which time he saw Watson "was unresponsive and face down in the water."

The man was helped to shore by two campers who had seen the water landing from the cliffs above the shoreline.

The campers also pulled Watson from the water and attempted CPR before emergency medical personnel arrived.

Watson and the other pilot, who suffered minor injuries, were taken to St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard, authorities said.

The Ventura County Sheriff's Office reported Watson's death around 7:40 p.m.

The surviving pilot and Watson were both members of the Sky Nights Flight Club out of the Camarillo Airport.

A man died after a two-seat ultralight aircraft crashed into the ocean near Mugu Rock on Saturday, officials said. 

After getting the report of the crash, rescue crews responded at 4:46 p.m. to the 7300 block of Pacific Coast Highway, according to the Ventura County Fire Department. 

Fire Capt. Dennis O'Shea said there were three ultralight planes flying in the area and they were headed back to the Camarillo airport. One of them began having engine trouble and crashed into the water about 150 yards from Mugu Rock, O'Shea said. Initial reports indicated two aircraft crashed, but officials later said only one had crashed.

Both people on the aircraft, described as men in their 50s, were taken to St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard. One of them suffered minor injuries and appeared to be fine, but the other man was not, O'Shea said. 

"That gentleman was unresponsive when he left here in the ambulance," O'Shea said from Mugu Rock. 

The Ventura County Sheriff's Office said about 7:40 p.m. that one person on the aircraft had died. 

Two couples from Los Angeles County were camping in the area when they saw the aircraft go down and called for help. John Pitzer, of El Segundo, and Alex Daniels, of Torrance, immediately went into the water after the crash. Daniels' wife, Angie, called 911.

"We were watching them fly and all of a sudden, he gets lower and lower," Pitzer said.

Pitzer and Daniels went down the cliff and helped the men get to shore. Pitzer said he helped a man who was farther from the crashed aircraft and who appeared to be having a difficult time swimming. 

They said they saw the man treading water at first, but he did not seem to be a strong swimmer. The other crash victim, who was closer to the aircraft, was able to swim to shore, and Daniels helped him get on the rocks. 

Once he was there, Daniels helped Pitzer get the other man onto the rocks. That man was unconscious, so the campers started performing CPR, which was difficult to do on the rocks as the water came in. 

"We were doing CPR, but we weren't getting much oxygen into him," Pitzer said. 

Soon, rescuers arrived and continued to perform CPR before a basket was lowered down the cliff and the crash victim was brought up to the roadway. Steve Swindle, a county fire spokesman, said CPR was being performed because the man was in cardiac arrest.

When talking to one of the fliers, Pitzer said he learned that both men had control of piloting the plane. 

The Federal Aviation Administration was notified of the incident and was investigating along with the National Transportation Safety Board.

Crews from Naval Base Ventura County and the Ventura County and Oxnard fire departments responded to the scene. Many of those same crews responded to a nearby head-on collision between and SUV and Mercedes that killed three people just a few days earlier.

The aircraft crash near Mugu Rock wasn't the first incident of the day involving an ultralight.

Hours earlier, firefighters responded to an ultralight that made a hard landing about 12:30 p.m. in the Santa Clara River bottom near Vineyard and Los Angeles avenues, authorities said.

There was no medical aid needed in that incident near Saticoy and the owner of the aircraft planned to retrieve it, authorities said.

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