Saturday, March 16, 2019

Loss of Control in Flight: Stolp SA-900 V-Star, N21EM; accident occurred November 03, 2017 at Van Sant Airport (9N1), Erwinna, Tinicum Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Allentown, Pennsylvania

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Location: Erwinna, PA
Accident Number: ERA18LA019
Date & Time: 11/03/2017, 1400 EDT
Registration: N21EM
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 


The sport pilot was practicing takeoffs and landings in the tailwheel-equipped airplane. A witness reported that he saw the airplane depart and then return about 30 minutes later. During the landing, the airplane "cartwheeled," which resulted in substantial damage to the left wing and fuselage. The pilot reported that he did could not remember the landing. The pilot added that a postaccident check of the flight controls revealed that they were functioning normally. Therefore, it is likely that the pilot lost airplane control during landing. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain airplane control during landing. 


Performance/control parameters - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)

Factual Information

On November 3, 2017, about 1400 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built V-Star SA9000, N21EM, collided with terrain during landing at Vansant Airport (9N1), Erwinna, Pennsylvania. The private pilot was seriously injured. Day, visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and no flight plan was filed for the local, personal flight. The flight was operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91.

A witness stated he saw the accident airplane depart, and about thirty minutes later he saw the airplane approach the airport from the east. He initially saw the airplane in a normal flight attitude over the runway before it disappeared briefly behind rolling terrain. Then he saw the left wing, then the right wing, followed by the tail, he described it as a "cartwheeling" motion. He did not report hearing any strange sounds being emitted by the airplane on the takeoff or landing, nor did he see any smoke or objects falling from the airplane.

The pilot stated he was practicing takeoffs and landings. He recalled one circuit around the pattern, then waking up suspended in the airplane by his restraints. He did not believe there was a mechanical problem with the airplane and reported that, "all control surfaces were operational after [the] accident."

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed the fuselage came to rest on its nose, and the tail was resting against tree branches. The engine was separated from the airframe, but the airplane remained largely intact. The left wing and forward fuselage were substantially damaged.

The single-seat, bi-wing airplane was manufactured in 1980 and was equipped with a Lycoming O-290, 140-horsepower reciprocating engine. Its most recent condition inspection was completed on September 19, 2017.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a glider rating, and a sport pilot endorsement for airplane single engine land. He reported 700 hours of total flight experience on his most recent application for an FAA third-class medical certificate, which was issued on November 23, 1983.

The weather conditions reported at the Doyelstown Airport (DYL), Doylestown, Pennsylvania, about 9 miles south of the accident site, included wind from 230° at 7 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear skies, temperature 21° C, dew point 14° C, and an altimeter setting of 30.04 inches of mercury.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 80, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Center
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Glider
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Sport Pilot With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 11/23/1983
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 08/31/2017
Flight Time:  700 hours (Total, all aircraft), 250 hours (Total, this make and model), 670 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 4 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: MAURER ELMO A
Registration: N21EM
Model/Series: V STAR SA900 NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1980
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 109
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 09/19/2017, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1000 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 1584 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: O-290 SERIES
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 140 hp
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: KDYL, 394 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 9 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1154 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 187°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 7 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 230°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 30.04 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 21°C / 14°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Erwinna, PA (9N1)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Erwinna, PA (9N1)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1300 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: VANSANT (9N1)
Runway Surface Type: Grass/turf
Airport Elevation: 390 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 25
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3058 ft / 120 ft
VFR Approach/Landing:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude:  40.483056, -75.100278 (est)

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