Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Azalea Saberwing, N203SW: Fatal accident occurred December 18, 2018 near Cook County Airport (15J), Adel, Georgia

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Atlanta, Georgia
Lycoming; Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Adel, GA
Accident Number: ERA19FA068
Date & Time: 12/18/2018, 1500 EST
Registration: N203SW
Aircraft: Saberwing Saberwing
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On December 18, 2019, about 1500 eastern standard daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Saberwing, N203SW, was destroyed during an inflight breakup near Adel, Georgia. The private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The flight originated from Cook County Airport (15J), Adel, Georgia at 1100.

According to a witness the pilot was flying in the airport traffic pattern before departing the area. Another witness, located about 9 miles west of 15J, arrived home and saw airplane parts scattered in his yard. He called the local authorities and when they arrived, they confirmed the registration number on the vertical stabilizer belong to the accident airplane. No radio communications were received from the pilot prior to the accident.

The pilot, age 56, held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. On his most recent application for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate, dated November 30, 2019, he reported his flight experience included 1,100 total and 120 hours in last six months. The pilot held a third-class medical certificate with a limitation requiring the use of corrective lenses.

The experimental amateur-built airplane was completed in 2016, and was designated serial number 003. It was powered by a Lycoming XIO-360-MIB series 180-horsepower engine and equipped with a Sensenich propeller. Review of the airplane's maintenance records revealed the airplane's most recent condition inspection was completed on July 15, 2018. The recorded tachometer time was 101 hours. The tachometer was not located and the airframe hours at the time of the accident could not be determined.

At 1515, the recorded weather at Moultrie Municipal Airport (MGR), Moultrie, Georgia, located 14 miles west of the accident site, included wind from 210° at 3 kts, 10 statute miles visibility, and clear skies. The temperature was 18°C, the dew point was 2° C, and the altimeter setting was 30.07 inches of mercury.

The wreckage was scattered over a large swamp that included a heavily wooded area. The wreckage debris field was about 6,000 ft in length, oriented toward 343° true. The cockpit with the engine still attached to the engine mounts came to rest at the end of the debris path. At the beginning of the debris field, the vertical stabilizer was located split into 2 pieces, in the yard of the witness. The next part that was located was the rudder which was separated from the vertical stabilizer. The entire horizontal assembly was then located, with both elevators still attached. The left flap assembly was located next along the debris path left of the debris field. The right wing assembly was located on the right side of the debris path. The right wing assembly consisted of the aileron, flap and landing gear assembly. The wing was broken away from the fuselage at the wing root forward main spar. The entire aft spar was still attached to the right wing. The upper attachment fittings that connect the spar to the wing were broken. The fuselage was broken into two sections, the aft section which consisted of the entire empennage was located forward of the right wing. Forward of the empennage along the end of the debris path the forward cockpit was located. The engine remained attached to the motor mounts and attached to the firewall of the cockpit section. All three propeller blades were broken at the propeller hub. All of the propeller blades had scoring and impact marks throughout the span of the blades. The left wing was not located during the initial search.

The wreckage was recovered and retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Saberwing
Registration: N203SW
Model/Series: Saberwing
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: KMGR, 283 ft msl
Observation Time: 2015 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 13 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 18°C / 2°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 3 knots / , 210°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.07 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Adel, GA (15J)
Destination: Adel, GA (15J) 

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: 31.103611, -83.553056 (est)

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

Larry Bothof

COOK COUNTY, Ga. (WALB) - Investigators in Cook County are still looking for answers after the body of 65-year-old Larry Bothof who was pulled from the wreckage of a small civilian plane earlier this week.  

We are told from representatives of the National Transportation Safety Board, or the NTSB, are still in the area, gathering parts, and continuing their investigation.

They are working alongside the Federal Aviation Administration to find out what exactly happened Tuesday that led to this crash.

We are also told that these agencies are requiring an in-depth examination from the Cook County coroner, about Buthof's death. 

The coroner shared that he does not have any information for release at this time.

Original article can be found here ➤

COOK CO., GA (WALB) - The body of a pilot in a Cook County plane crash was found Wednesday morning, according to officials.

Larry Bothof, 56, of Colquitt County, was identified after his body was recovered at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

The body, initially found at 9:30 a.m., was found submerged in 7-8 feet of water, according to Brent Exum, Cook County Sheriff’s Office public information officer.

Valdosta Georgia Search and Rescue (GSAR) and Valdosta Sports assisted in recovering the body and the body was taken to the coroner.

The plane, a single engine fixed wing air raid, belonged to Bothof.

Officials found the plane has lost parts early Tuesday. 

A missing persons report was filed Berlin, which helped identify the pilot. 

The area where parts are being recovered is over a mile long, Exum said.

Most everything in the recovery area, Exum pointed out, is full of water up to 20 feet deep.

Another wreckage area was found Wednesday morning, Exum said.

The plane left Cook County Airport where it was housed, according to Exum.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are working with law enforcement to find what they can in the investigation.

The investigation is wrapping up for the most part, Exum said.

COOK CO., GA (WALB) - Law enforcement agencies are investigating after a small civilian aircraft crashed in Cook County on Tuesday.

According to Public Information Officer Capt. Brent Exum with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Emergency 911 received a call from a resident on Arthur Tillman Road who said he found items on his property that appeared to be from a plane.

The sheriff’s office, Cook County Emergency Management, Georgia State Patrol, fire personnel and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources all responded to the scene.

Exum said the plane that crashed had left the Adel Airport earlier Tuesday with a single pilot on board.

The crash happened in a slough, completely covered in water from recent rains, explained Exum.

Exum said attempts to reach the aircraft and the pilot continue with the assistance of the GSP Aviation Unit, but they have so far been unsuccessful due to the terrain and light restrictions.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been contacted and is headed to the location, according to Exum. 

The sheriff’s office is requesting that residents avoid the location around Arthur Tillman and Pike Creek Road until further notice in order to allow rescue efforts to continue.

Original article can be found here ➤

The command center near the scene of the crash.

COOK COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) -- Authorities have confirmed that one person is dead following a plane crash in Cook County.

The Cook County Sheriff's Office says around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, they received a call from a homeowner reporting that they'd found a piece of debris that appeared to be from a plane. During the call, the homeowner located another piece of the aircraft with a tail number on it, which was then matched to a missing persons report out of Berlin, Georgia.

The missing persons report was for the owner of the plane, 56-year-old Larry D. Bothos, of Colquitt County. Bothos was reported missing on Tuesday after he didn’t show up for an afternoon appointment.

Officials say Bothos was a frequent flyer at the Cook County airport and had a hangar there.

Authorities responded to the scene and confirmed that the wreckage was indeed that of Bothos' plane. The debris field spanned approximately 2 miles in a wooded area west of Adel.

Around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, authorities located Bothos' body.

Authorities say Bothos was piloting the plane and was the only person aboard the Saberwing experimental aircraft when it went down in an area near Arthur Tillman Road.

Bothos' body has been taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Macon for an autopsy.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are continuing to investigate the cause of the crash.

COOK COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) -- The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating what caused a plane to crash in Cook County.

The FAA released the following statement on Wednesday:

"A Saberwing experimental aircraft crashed in a wooded area in Cook County, GA. Only the pilot was onboard. Local authorities will release the pilot's name and medical condition. The FAA will investigate and the National Transportation Safety Board will determine the probable cause of the accident."

It is not clear at this time exactly when the plane crashed.

We're hearing that the plane went down in a rural area west of Adel near Arthur Tillman Road, which has since been shut down to allow officials to investigate.

A command center is currently set up near the scene along Pike Creek Road between McConnell Bridge Road and Quillie Jones Road.

Multiple agencies are on the scene including the FAA, the Cook County Sheriff's Office, the Valdosta Police Department, Cook County Fire Rescue and Tift County Fire Rescue.

Original article can be found here ➤


  1. Was this one of the "Beta Testers" ?

  2. Has to be one of the first customer airplanes.....

  3. He replaced the 100bhp engine with a 200bhp engine and increased the fuel tankage by cutting into the top wing skins with a saber saw. The fiberglass wing skins are structural components...

  4. From Saberwings website :

    It is with deep sadness and pain that I report the loss of an amazing man and great friend. Dec 18, Larry Bothof was killed in his Saberwing N203SW after apparently attempting aerobatic manuevers. A report of the results of the investigation from the FAA and NTSB will be provided when completed. The FAA has inspected and cleared our kits to continue without changes to design as it does not seem to be a contributing factor. Larry leaves behind his wife Cheryl and family who will covet your prayers and support. You are welcome to contact us if you personally knew Larry and would like to comment on his influence in you life.

    1. here say... where's the proof of this statement? Looking at the wreckage pictures. Looks like the tail fail off , not ripped off. Too clean. Fiberglass doesn't separate in a smooth straight line. The method it was bonded seems to be more likley.

  5. The interview is interesting. 12:35 min and 13:00 min in ...

  6. So did he crash as a result of loss of control while doing aerobatics OR did the airframe fail causing the loss of control? Is this design rated for aerobatics? I wonder what maneuver he was attempting at the time of the crash. RIP fellow aviator.

  7. If the debris field spans 2 miles, that plane came apart in-flight. I wonder if it is rated for aerobatics?

  8. Limitations +4 Gs and -2 Gs ( no aerobatics or spins allowed) --- source:

  9. If you double the power on any airplane it increases the stress on the tail tremendously