Friday, May 31, 2019

Low Altitude Operation / Event: Kitfox IV-1200, N125TY, accident occurred July 31, 2018 in Loma, Mesa County, Colorado

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Salt Lake City, Utah

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Loma, CO
Accident Number: CEN18LA303
Date & Time: 07/31/2018, 1130 MDT
Registration: N125TY
Aircraft: BUCHANAN Kitfox IV
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Low altitude operation/event
Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On July 31, 2018, about 1130 mountain daylight time, a Buchanan Kitfox IV experimental airplane, N125TY, impacted a cableway while maneuvering at low altitude over the Colorado River near Loma, Colorado. The private pilot sustained minor injuries, and the airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and the flight was operated on a visual flight rules flight plan. The airplane departed the Grand Junction Regional Airport (GJT), Grand Junction, Colorado, about 1100, and was destined for Cedar City, Utah.

According to the pilot, he departed GJT and elected to fly at low altitude over the Colorado River. After over passing a group of river rafters about 500 ft above ground level, the pilot "dropped [the airplane] low to the river." Shortly after descending, the airplane's vertical stabilizer struck a cableway (owned and maintained by the US Geological Survey (USGS)) that crossed over the river. The pilot lost control of the airplane, and the airplane impacted the side of the river canyon. The airplane came to rest partially submerged in the river, and the pilot was rescued by passing river rafters (Figure 1).

Figure 1 - Accident Site (photo provided by Mesa County Sheriff's Office)

According to the USGS, the cableway is supported by two fixed A-frame structures located on the sides of the riverbank. The center of the cable to the water surface is 32 ft (Figure 2).

Figure 2 - Cableway dimensions (USGS) 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 59, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Glider
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/24/2017
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 06/25/2017
Flight Time:  1240 hours (Total, all aircraft), 783 hours (Total, this make and model), 1077 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 39 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 30 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: BUCHANAN
Registration: N125TY
Model/Series: Kitfox IV
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental; Normal
Serial Number: HCU089
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 05/31/2018, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1200 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 814 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Rotax
ELT: C91A installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: 912ULS
Registered Owner: Buchanan Guy E
Rated Power: 100 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:
Distance from Accident Site:
Observation Time:
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  20 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: Light and Variable /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: Variable
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 29.98 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 27°C / -1°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Precipitation
Departure Point: Grand Junction, CO (GJT)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: VFR
Destination: Cedar City, UT (CDC)
Type of Clearance: VFR
Departure Time: 1100 MDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 39.135278, -109.025556 (est)

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