Saturday, June 08, 2019

Phase I Flight Test: Lockwood Aircraft AirCam, N123GN, fatal accident occurred June 08, 2019 at Hemet-Ryan Airport (KHMT), Riverside County, California

Loren Vernon Gallagher

Loren Vernon Gallagher was born on April 6th, 1946 in Minnesota. He entered into eternal rest on June 8th, 2019 in Hemet, California. He is survived by his loving wife, children, extended family and friends. 

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Riverside, California
Lockwood Aviation; Sebring, Florida

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Location: Hemet, CA
Accident Number: WPR19FA161
Date & Time: 06/08/2019, 0938 PDT
Registration: N123GN
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Flight Test 

On June 8, 2019, at 0938 Pacific daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Lockwood Aviation Aircam airplane, N123GN, was substantially damaged when it rolled inverted and impacted the runway surface during a takeoff attempt at Hemet-Ryan Airport (HMT), Hemet, California. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the local flight.

According to records and witness statements, the pilot purchased the kit for the accident airplane in November 2017, and completed construction several months before the accident. The accident flight was the first test flight in the airplane after having recently received a Special Airworthiness Certificate to begin Phase I flight testing. On the morning of the accident, several of the pilot's friends and acquaintances had gathered to witness his first flight. Witnesses reported that the pilot performed a preflight inspection of the airplane and sumped the fuel tanks before he taxied to the active runway. He lined up the airplane on the runway centerline, and began a slow ground roll for a few seconds before he advanced the throttles to takeoff power. Seconds later, the airplane lifted off the runway, but as the airplane approached about 20 ft above ground level, the left wing folded upward. The airplane immediately rolled to the left and entered a descent before it impacted the ground inverted.

A video of the accident was captured by an eyewitness who was recording the initial flight with a smartphone. The video was consistent with witness statements and showed the tailwheel lift from the runway surface about 200 ft into the airplane's ground roll. The airplane departed the runway surface about 400 ft into the ground roll, and began a climb. Two seconds after the wheels came off the ground, the left wing folded upward and the airplane began a left roll and descended to the ground.

The airplane came to rest inverted on the left runway edge, approximately 550 ft from the beginning of runway 23. All major sections of the airframe were accounted for at the accident site. The main wreckage was located about 125 ft forward of the airplane's initial impact point and oriented on a heading of 111° magnetic. Multiple dents and compression wrinkles were observed on both sides of the forward fuselage at the nose cone, which was scarred and cracked along the top. The fuselage frame at each wing strut attachment was compressed on both sides of the fuselage. The left wing was partially separated and folded beneath the main wreckage and the wing tip was adjacent to the empennage. The right wing compression tube was deformed and the leading edge was crushed. Fuel stains were observed below the left wing on the runway surface covered by an absorbent material that had been distributed by first responders.

A preliminary examination of the airplane showed that both the forward and aft left wing struts remained connected to their braces at the left wing, but were not connected to the wing strut attachment fittings at the fuselage. According to the airplane's build manual, during normal assembly the wing struts are installed on the fuselage attachment fittings with bolts. On the accident airplane, the bolts were present and secured to the struts with nuts, however they were straight and undamaged, and not connected to their respective fittings on the fuselage. Likewise, the fittings on the fuselage were intact, and their corresponding bolt holes were undamaged. The right wing struts remained connected to both the wing strut attachments fitting at the fuselage, and braces at the wing.

Photograph 1: Left Wing Strut Attachment Fitting Ends and Fuselage Attachment Fittings 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: LOCKWOOD
Registration: N123GN
Model/Series: AIRCAM
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: Yes
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation: , 1514 ft msl
Observation Time: 0935 PDT
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C / 13°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm / ,
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.93 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Hemet, CA (HMT)
Destination: Hemet, CA (HMT)

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:

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

HEMET, California — The pilot of a twin-engine open cockpit experimental amateur-built aircraft was killed after crashing at Hemet-Ryan Airport Saturday morning, June 8. The Lockwood Aircraft AirCam built by the pilot and his friends – had just passed its FAA inspection and the deadly crash happened during the plane’s inaugural flight.

Although coroner officials have not yet released the victim’s name, friends and family have since identified the man who died as Loren Gallagher, of Hemet.

City of Hemet Police and Fire Departments, along with AMR, were dispatched to the fatal crash around 9:30 a.m., Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor later said.

When officials arrived they found the small red and gold plane upside down near one of the runways. The pilot, later identified as Gallagher, was reportedly trapped inside the mangled wreckage of the overturned plane and had to be extricated from inside the open cockpit of the two-seater.

Officials attempted CPR and requested an air ambulance while making other life-saving efforts, Hemet Fire Department later reported. However, the air ambulance was soon cancelled and Gallagher was transported by ground ambulance to Hemet Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased.

A person who was at the airport and witnessed the crash but requested to remain anonymous, later told RCNS the plane crashed moments after it lifted off.

“It started off fine and was lifting into the air when it looked like the wing possibly failed,” the witness reported. “(The plane) only managed to get about 30-40 feet into the air when it came crashing down, trapping Loren.”

“A wonderful man died today. So many will miss him,” one friend, Debbie Dunajski Schamber, wrote after learning of the tragic accident. “That plane was so much more than just a hobby for the men who built it. Today was going to be a celebration for it’s first flight and now it has turned into a tragedy.”

“I am thankful for only one thing,” Schamber wrote. “Loren was a good Christian man with Jesus Christ as his savior. RIP my sweet friend. Until we meet again.”

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the deadly crash, according to Gregor. Their results and findings will be released once their investigation is complete.

Original article ➤

HEMET, California — Federal aviation officials are looking into what caused an experimental plane to crash at Hemet-Ryan Airport soon after takeoff on Saturday, fatally injuring the pilot.

Coroner’s officials on Sunday identified the pilot who died as Loren Gallagher, 73, of Hemet.

The Lockwood Aircraft AirCam crashed on the runway at about 9:30 a.m. Saturday, according to Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor, who said the pilot was the only person believed to have been onboard.

The pilot later identified as Gallagher was freed from the wreckage and taken to Hemet Valley Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the Hemet Fire Department said.

The plane was registered to Gallagher in February, according to FAA records.

AirCam planes are manufactured by Lockwood Aircraft, sold as a kit and put together by the customer, according to the company’s website.

Photos taken at the scene of the crash show the red plane upside down on the runway.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board typically take a year, or in some cases longer, to determine the cause of the crash, Gregor said.

Original article can be found here ➤

A pilot died Saturday, June 8th, when an experimental aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff from Hemet-Ryan Airport, authorities said.

The crash, on the runway, happened at about 9:30 a.m., Hemet Fire Chief Scott Brown said. The pilot was the only person on board the Lockwood Aircam, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.

The Hemet Fire Department arrived to find the Lockwood Aircraft AirCam upside down and the pilot trapped in the wreckage, Brown said. The victim was taken to Hemet Valley Hospital, where the Riverside County Coroner’s Office was called.

The pilot’s name was not immediately released.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. It takes the NTSB about a year to determine the probable cause of a crash, Gregor said.

Original article can be found here ➤


  1. Missed something on the construction.


  2. Not necessarily... but the first few hours of any brand new plane are critical. This is why high speed taxis and slight hovers are best and recheck the airframe and components for anything amiss meticulously.

    Youth errors are a thing. This is why teenagers crash cars at the same rate as 80 year olds.

    Youth error - maturity - old age. Bathtub reliability curve.

  3. The left wing struts were not bolted through the support on the fuselage the struts were not placed far enough down the fuselage bracket.looking completed with the bolts in place they were actually not attached .very sad such a simple but critical mistake cost this man his life on what should have been a great day.

  4. Any airplane with wing struts should have one important step in the preflight, lifting up repeatably on each wing tip. Many years ago a piper cub pilot did this, and one strut separated. I’ll never forget that.

  5. Amazingly this aircraft had been inspected by either the FAA or a DAR and given an Airworthiness Certificate.

  6. It is ultimately the responsibility of the PIC and builder to maintain the safety of the flight.
    The DAR only gave a special airworthiness certificate for test flying the plane in a very limited manner.

    It also seems the struts were solid and lifting the wings may not have detected this anomaly as they were simply wedged in the fittings.

    Only X-Rays may have shown the glaring defect.

    Of course it's a warning for builders to always concentrate on single point of failure items even after completing the build and getting any sort of airworthiness certificate.

  7. Only X-Rays may have shown the glaring defect.

    or looking at the fitting and not seeing any bolt in it...

  8. Seems to me that this is partly a design fault with the manufacturer. There's enough that can go wrong even in a perfectly constructed homebuilt aircraft so shouldn't critical elements like strut to fuselage frame brackets/attachements be designed and engineered such that they _cannot_ be assembled incorrectly ? A sad story and experience especially for those friends and family that were on hand to witness the maiden flight.

  9. Very sad indeed-

    A couple builder (RV7)/Pilot comments but just my own $.02. I agree with the wing shake n preflight (on any plane). I have flown several old Cubs, Champs, Cessnas with high wings and struts and always felt this was a good idea, especially when there were fairings hiding the strut bolts externally and spar bolts internally. Also, do it on low wingers-- I think it was Embry Riddle that had a PA28 lose a wing and there are lots of videos of wings sloppy loose on line. It's not going to hurt the plane, and may save your you know what.

    On the accident plane, I would guess that tightening of the bolts that weren't through the brackets created enough pinching force on the strut bracket that it seemed tight, until the entire load of the aircraft was placed on them.

    I know nothing about this aircraft, but with the strut not fully justified on that alu bracket, I would think the dihedral would have been off on that wing (deflected upward). Maybe there is a way to dial it out and they did, but just seems odd.

    Also, hope there is an AD that comes out for that to prevent it from happening again.

    I hate to see loss of life anywhere, in the plane/pilot community I hope we all can use these tragedies to hopefully be safer pilots and builders/flyers.

  10. Note to the last poster regarding ...

    "I would guess that tightening of the bolts that weren't through the brackets created enough pinching force on the strut bracket that it seemed tight"

    Agreed, and additionally ,aviation bolt grip length means just that. If you look at the image posted, you will see that the nuts appear to be tight to the last thread, then comes the grip length, which actually does the work to hold the strut to the fitting.

    He "ran out" of thread, the nut tightened up and all appeared correctly fastened.

    I am questioning the pre-flight as well. Why not lift the wing a little to see that all is secure, including the spar and ribs, etc.

    Should the DAR be questioned? Perhaps, and the attorneys will go after the DAR in due time, but the DAR's responsibilities are to inspect the construction "techniques and practices" used and the adherence to plans. DAR's usually do not touch much on an E/AB plane- they do take a lot of images ... and they do not issue typical airworthiness certs on E/AB planes either, but issue SAW's.

    Before that first phase flight, the builder, or an A&P, must inspect the plane in reference to a checklist which satisfies FAR 43, then properly endorse the airframe log that it has be "inspected in reference to a condition inspection checklist and that the aircraft is in a condition for safe operation."

    Lots of blame to the builder on this one.

  11. A simple pre measurement and a piece of masking tape for visual reference would have worked great attaching the bolt to the strut. If you see a gap between the tape line and the bottom of the strut then the hole was not captured by the bolt. Such a shame.

  12. How about grabbing the wing at the tip and giving it an up and down shaking. I was taught that with the Citabria's and Decathlon's I fly.

  13. Amazing that such a simple check like lifting the wing tip wasn't performed.

    It seemed to have been a very happy event, with lots of people wanting to share the first flight, and then something this basic is missed.

    No secondary load paths, like load-carrying wire inside the strut, or a beam across connecting the two wing halves.

    I believe in secondary load paths are essential to any design, if it should be fail-safe, which this aircraft evidently isn't!

  14. A check list of critical air frame attachment points and flight controls would be good idea for first flight. If you have a good air frame and flight controls give you a chance to walk away from a first flight.

  15. 2 dimples should be placed inboard of the bolt hole on each leg of the wing strut attach fitting. Add a note stenciled "only one dimple should be visible".
    The strut tubing would cover the dimple closest to the bolt hole when inserted to the correct depth.
    Alternatively a witness hole in the wing strut could be used but it may allow water to enter and cause corrosion unless filled after assembly.
    A very unfortunate accident, may his family find peace in his pursuit of his dreams.