Sunday, January 14, 2018

Zenith Zodiac 601XL, N929GB, registered to and operated by the private pilot: Fatal accident occurred December 21, 2017 in Thompson's Station, Williamson County, Tennessee

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Jerry Elton Travis

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:

Location: Thompson's Station, TN
Accident Number: WPR18FA053
Date & Time: 12/21/2017, 1307 CST
Registration: N929GB
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On December 21, 2017, about 1307 central standard time, a Gregory S. Browning Zodiac 601XL experimental, amateur-built airplane, N929GB, was substantially damaged following a loss of control and impact with terrain while maneuvering at a low altitude near Thompson's Station, Tennessee. The airplane was registered to and operated by the private pilot, the sole occupant, as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The pilot was fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight departed Bomar Field-Shelbyville Municipal Airport (SYI), Shelbyville, Tennessee about 1230, with an intended destination to Whifferdill Airport (TN77), Chapmansboro, Tennessee. No flight plan was filed for the flight.

According to a family member, the pilot had flown the airplane from TN77 to SYI a few weeks earlier to have an autopilot installed. On the day of the accident the family member drove the pilot to SYI to retrieve the airplane and return it to TN77. Personnel at the maintenance facility where the work had been completed were surprised to see the pilot when he arrived for the airplane, as he had not informed them of his plans to pick the airplane up that day. Additionally, the pilot was asked if he was sure that he wanted to make the flight, as the weather was not good, with low ceilings and limited visibility; the pilot elected to proceed with the flight to his home base. Maintenance personnel reported that after the pilot had settled his bill, he started the engine, taxied to the parallel taxiway, and then departed to the south on the taxiway, rather than on Runway 18. The witness then observed the pilot make an excessive left banking turn after liftoff at a low altitude before heading toward the northwest.

About 35 minutes into the flight, the airplane impacted a stand of trees and terrain about 35 nautical miles northwest of SYI, on a magnetic heading of about 120o . A first responder, who resides about 250 ft south of the accident site, reported that she heard a very loud noise outside of her residence, after which she observed that an airplane had crashed. The responder reported that when she arrived at the accident site, she detected the presence of fuel, and that there was no indication of fire. The responder revealed that the weather in the area at the time of the accident consisted of low clouds about tree top level, with very limited visibility.

Representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration surveyed the accident site the day following the event. The airplane came to rest upright on a magnetic heading of about 120o . With the exception of the main landing gear and some small pieces of fuselage, the airplane was intact. The initial impact point with the stand of trees, which were about 60 ft high, was about 115 ft northwest of the main wreckage site. The second impact point was with additional trees about the 40-foot level. The airplane subsequently came to rest in an open field next to a residential rural dirt road.

At 1253, the weather reporting station located at the Nashville International Airport (BNA), Nashville, Tennessee, about 25 nm northeast of the accident site, reported wind 220° at 9 knots, visibility 10 miles, overcast clouds at 900 ft, temperature 13° C, dew point 11° C, and an altimeter reading of 30.03 inches of mercury.

The airplane was recovered to a secured storage facility for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: BROWNING GREGORY S
Registration: N929GB
Model/Series: ZODIAC 601XL XL
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: Yes
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: BNA
Observation Time: 1303 CST
Distance from Accident Site: 25 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 13°C / 11°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Thin Overcast / 1000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 9 knots, 120°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 1000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.03 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Shelbyville, TN (SYI)
Destination: Chapmansboro, TN (TN77) 

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: 35.819167, -87.046944

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