Sunday, July 21, 2019

Glastar GS-1, N65EW: Fatal accident occurred September 02, 2017 in Cascade, Valley County, Idaho

View Back Up Flight Path
Valley County Sheriff and Idaho Division of Aeronautics

Wreckage in site
Valley County Sheriff and Idaho Division of Aeronautics

Wreckage and Tree Swath
Valley County Sheriff and Idaho Division of Aeronautics

Liberated Propeller
Valley County Sheriff and Idaho Division of Aeronautics

Valley County Sheriff and Idaho Division of Aeronautics

Aft View of Wreckage
Valley County Sheriff and Idaho Division of Aeronautics

Hour Meter
Valley County Sheriff and Idaho Division of Aeronautics

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Boise, Idaho

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Cascade, ID
Accident Number: WPR17LA195
Date & Time: 09/02/2017, 1030 MDT
Registration: N65EW 
Aircraft Damage:Destroyed 
Defining Event: Miscellaneous/other
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On September 2, 2017, about 1030 mountain daylight time, an experimental, amateur-built GlaStar GS-1, N65EW, was destroyed when it impacted terrain while maneuvering above a wilderness area about 15 miles east-southeast of Cascade, Idaho. The private pilot was seriously injured, and the pilot-rated passenger was fatally injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed High Valley Swanson Airport (ID35), Cascade, Idaho, at an unknown time and was destined for Sulfur Creek Ranch Airport (ID74), Cascade, Idaho.

According to the previous owner (referred to as the seller) of the airplane, he lived in Idaho and based the airplane at Nampa Municipal Airport (MAN), Nampa, Idaho. About 2 weeks before the accident, he sold the airplane to another individual (referred to as "the buyer") who lived in Georgia. Several days before the accident, the buyer notified the seller that he (the buyer) would have a friend of his (the pilot), who also lived in Georgia, come to Idaho to pick up the airplane and fly it back to Georgia.

The day before the accident, the pilot met the seller at MAN to complete the transfer of the airplane. The seller offered to fly with the pilot in order to familiarize him with the airplane, but the seller said that he could only do that if he (the seller) could fly from the left seat, since the seller had never flown from the right seat. Alternatively, the seller offered to provide a flight instructor if the pilot preferred to fly from the left seat; the pilot opted for this course of action. Later that day, the pilot and instructor flew the airplane for about 1 hour, after which the ownership transfer was completed. The pilot told the seller that he was leaving for Georgia the following morning, and did not mention any other flight plans to the seller. About 1800 the next day, the seller texted the pilot to ask how the return flight was progressing, and the pilot informed him of the accident.

According to the pilot, his cousin, who was also a pilot, lived in Idaho. The pilot flew from MAN to ID35, where he met his cousin and remained overnight. The next morning, the two departed in the airplane, with a destination of ID74. While enroute to ID74, the pilot flew into a canyon and eventually realized that the airplane was unable to outclimb the terrain. The pilot began a right turn to escape the canyon, but the airplane stalled and impacted the ground. The pilot was able to use his mobile telephone to notify authorities of the accident and fatality. About 3 hours after the accident, a US Forest Service helicopter rendered assistance to the pilot. About an hour later, first responders were lowered to the pilot to prepare him for aerial extraction.

According to the helicopter pilot who effected the recovery of the pilot, smoke from a nearby forest fire reduced visibility somewhat, but the smoke was "not an issue" of impediment or concern. 

David Henderson
1967 - 2017
Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 54, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 02/09/2017
Occupational Pilot:
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 998 hours (Total, all aircraft), 2 hours (Total, this make and model), 5 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Pilot-Rated Passenger Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 50, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s):
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s):
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s):
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3
Last FAA Medical Exam: 08/27/2001
Occupational Pilot:
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: (Total, all aircraft), 0 hours (Total, this make and model)  


Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records indicated that the pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued in February 2017. On his application for that certificate, the pilot indicated that he had a total flight experience of 998 hours. According to the seller, the pilot stated that he did not have any backcountry flight experience, but that he hoped to move to Idaho and begin gaining backcountry flying experience.

Pilot-Rated Passenger

FAA records indicated that the passenger's most recent commercial pilot certificate, which included single-engine land, multi-engine land, and instrument airplane ratings, was issued in May 2003. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued in August 2001. No details of his flight experience, including total flight time, recency of experience, or mountain/backcountry training or flight time were obtained. The pilot did not provide any information regarding his cousin's participation in the planning or execution of the accident flight. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: WALKER EDGAR E
Registration: N65EW
Model/Series: GLASTAR GS-1
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1998
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 5296
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection:
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1990 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: O-320 SERIES
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 0 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

FAA records indicated that the airplane was manufactured in 1998 and had an empty weight of 1,331 lbs. The records indicated that the most recent seller was the third owner, and that he had purchased the airplane in November 2016. The airplane was equipped with a normally-aspirated Lycoming O-320 series engine, which had accumulated about 40 hours since the seller had it partially overhauled a few months after his purchase. The seller stated that the maximum allowable gross weight was about 1,990 lbs, and that the total fuel capacity was 50 gallons. Fuel records at MAN indicated that the airplane was fueled with 38.9 gallons the evening before the accident, several hours after the ownership transfer was completed.

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:
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts:
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting:
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: Light - Partial - Smoke; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Cascade, ID (ID35)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Cascade, ID (ID74)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time:  MDT
Type of Airspace: Unknown

Review of meteorological information indicated that visual meteorological conditions (VMC) existed in the vicinity of the accident site about the time of the accident, and first responder reports indicated that the area remained VMC for most of the day. Based on the upper air sounding data for the accident site for 1000 local time, the temperature would have been about 19°C at the accident site elevation.

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 44.411111, -115.677500 (est)

The airplane impacted terrain and came to rest on an upsloping, rocky clearing in a forested area on the sidewall of the canyon. The impact site was located about 14 miles west-southwest of ID74 at an elevation of about 7,500 ft msl. Damage to several trees was consistent with them being struck and cut by the airplane just before ground impact. The fuselage was aligned in about the same direction as the tree cut swath. There was no fire.

The wreckage was tightly contained; with the exception of the horizontal stabilizer/elevator and the propeller, all components remained attached to the airplane. The two separated components were found in close proximity to the main wreckage, and their locations and damage patterns were consistent with separation during the impact sequence. The cockpit/cabin was partially crushed, and torn open by impact. Due to impact damage, the pre-impact position of the flaps could not be determined. The left flap was found nearly fully retracted, while the right flap was found near the fully-extended position. The left wing was canted forward about 80° and the right wing was canted aft a similar amount. The left wing forward and right wing aft displacements were consistent with impact during a spin in the airplane nose right direction. The wreckage was not recovered.

Airport Information

ID35 was situated at an elevation of about 4,900 ft above mean sea level (msl). ID74 was located about 38 miles northeast of ID35 at an elevation of about 5,800 ft msl. The Sectional aeronautical chart for the region depicted high terrain with peaks ranging from about 6,700 to 8,700 ft msl between the two airports.

Additional Information

Flight Route Planning and Navigation

No ground-based radar tracking data were available for reconstruction of the airplane's flight path.

In his narrative statement on his NTSB accident reporting form, the pilot indicated that he was using GPS as his navigation tool. In additional communications to the NTSB, the pilot reported that he had previously used a Garmin GPSMap 295, but for this trip, he had access to an iPad equipped with the Foreflight application. The iPad/Foreflight hardware/software combination is capable of presenting altitude, navigation, weather, and traffic information. "Geo-referencing" is the term used to describe when such information is graphically depicted in relation to a map or aerial photo image. Geo-referencing was the primary display mode for the iPad/Foreflight combination, and included terrain display and warning capability.

The pilot reported that he used the iPad/Foreflight to determine his flight route. He was not specific about when or what method or information he used to determine the flight route. When asked, he reported that he did not enter or program any planned route into the device and that he did not have or use any paper charts before or during the flight. He reported that he used the iPad during the flight, but that it did not have the intended route of flight entered or displayed.

The pilot wrote that he "entered the canyon with both sides of the canyon below me. The canyon walls rose to the ridge-line we were trying to fly over, but the [accident airplane] climb performance deteriorated to the point that it would not clear the terrain ahead. The ridge-line ahead was above me and I could clearly see this when entering the canyon without looking at the iPad. I judged we had enough distance ahead to climb over the ridge." Once he recognized that the airplane would not outclimb the terrain, the pilot executed a right turn to reverse course, but then stalled the airplane during that turn.

In the "recommendation" section of the NTSB reporting form, the pilot wrote that one should enter a box canyon at an altitude above that of the canyon walls. He also stated that instruction in mountain flying could have aided in preventing this accident.

Airplane Performance

In communications with the NTSB, the pilot stated that he was unfamiliar with the airplane, particularly its climb performance, and that he incorrectly overestimated its actual climb capability. The kit manufacturer's Owner's Manual (OM) did not contain an Airplane Performance section. The only climb-related information in the OM was in the Normal Operating Procedures section, which presented the speeds for best angle of climb (75 mph) and best rate of climb (90 mph). The pilot did not report what speed he used in his attempt to climb above the terrain.

The pilot stated that he was concerned by the fact that the engine was operating with cylinder head temperatures above 415°F, despite the fact that the previous owner told him that "the engine shop that built the engine assured him that was normal and not to worry." The investigation was unable to obtain any engine performance data to allow determination of the effect of the higher-than-expected CHT values on the airplane's climb capability. Based on the airplane empty weight, fuel load, and number of persons on board, the airplane weighed about 1,800 lbs at the time of the accident. The kit manufacturer specified a maximum gross weight of 1,960 lbs.


Stall and stall speed information was presented in the Limitations and Normal Operating Procedures sections of the OM. No explicit stall speeds were published, and the airplane was not equipped with a stall warning system or an angle of attack indication system.

Wings-level stall speeds for maximum gross weights were indirectly provided in the Limitations section via the kit manufacturer's designations of the bottoms of the white and green arcs on the airspeed indicator. The OM stated that the lower limit of the white arc (denoting the full-flap stall speed) was 49 mph, and the lower limit of the green arc (denoting the zero-flap stall speed) was 56 mph. The OM Limitations section stated that those values were derived from the kit manufacturer's test airplane. The OM then stated that, "Slight variations may be experienced in customer-built aircraft. Actual stall speeds should be determined from flight test of each individual aircraft, and the airspeed indicator markings should be adjusted appropriately."

The OM was not annotated with any other stall speed information. NTSB personnel did not examine or document the wreckage, and the on-scene documentation of the wreckage by other personnel did not depict or note the actual airspeed indicator markings. The pilot reported that he had deployed two notches of flaps (not full) at an undetermined time just prior to or during the turn. The stall speed for that flap setting is unknown, but would be in the range between the zero-flaps and full-flaps stall speeds cited above.

Stall speed varies directly with weight; decreased weight will decrease stall speed. Based on an estimated accident weight of 1,800 lbs, the wings-level stall speeds for the flight would have been about 2 mph less than the values in the OM. Stall speed also varies as a function of the bank angle; the stall speeds would have increased about 20 mph for this airplane in a 60° bank. The pilot did not report the speed at which he entered the course reversal turn or the bank angle or speed(s) he used in the turn.

The Normal Operating Procedures section of the OM stated that, "power-on stalls tend to be more aggressive than power-off stalls. The stall has a more defined break, and the torque effects of the engine and propeller induce rolling and yawing forces…that make a wing drop more likely to occur. These yawing forces make the development of a stall into a spin more likely…however power-on stalls are still extremely predictable and controllable." The OM stated that the "break of a power-on stall is preceded by a significant amount of airframe buffeting, which provides a clear 3-5 kt. warning period before the onset of the stall." The pilot did not report whether he noticed any pre-stall buffet.

Turn Radius and Mountain Flying

The FAA publication Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge states that turn radius is directly proportional to airspeed, and inversely proportional to bank angle. For a constant bank angle, turn radius increases with increased airspeed, and for a constant airspeed, turn radius decreases with increased bank angle. A minimum-radius turn would result from using the lowest airspeed and highest bank angle that still provide sufficient stall margin. Reduced stall speeds that result from flap extension can be used to reduce turn speed and resultant turn radius.

Commercially-available mountain flying training guidance advocates that when flying into a canyon, winds and turbulence permitting, instead of flying near the center of canyon, the pilot should offset the flight path to the side. The purpose is to pre-position the airplane in order to provide the most terrain clearance in the event that a course reversal turn becomes necessary. The pilot did not specify the lateral position of the airplane in the canyon during the ingress, or any details of how he attempted to execute the course reversal turn.


  1. I would never embark on such a flight without reference to current paper charts while planning the flight, and I would make sure to have paper charts on board as back up to the Ipad. And for an unfamiliar plane w/ recently overhauled engine I would fam flight before the actual trip over the mts to confirm climb capability.

  2. So many weak links in the accident chain.

  3. Why does KR repost old content?

  4. Someone asked why KR reposts old content: It's not old content. This post is based on the NTSB report, which was just released a few days ago. Pretty typical of NTSB reports.

  5. What a dummy. "Today I shall begin some mountain flying training, specifically we will fly into box canyons with an airplane I just bought that I am completely unfamiliar with." Who does this? The "pilot" apparently.

  6. . "The Valley County Sheriff's Office says the pilot, 54-year-old Andrew D. Akin of Griffin, Georgia, told dispatchers his plane had stalled out and he had been forced to crash-land."

  7. It's definitely not "old content". The factual report and investigation docket items were just released within the last week.

    You're welcome ;)

    Anonymous said: "Why does KR repost old content?"
    Monday, July 22, 2019 at 3:49:00 PM EDT

  8. Wish they would include some wind reports. Whether it was generally calm or windy ... downdrafts.

  9. Ordinary wind of 15-20 MPH can easily create a localized downdraft of 500 FPM that could create a real problem. A lack of mountain training and not thinking that the leeward side of the mountain can spell real trouble in a real hurry.

  10. Strong downdrafts is what caused Steve Fossett's plane to go down. A short hop on a nice day in the mountains could be dangerous. That's why Alaska bush pilot's that survive long enough to gain experience are some of the best pilots in the world.


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