Sunday, August 11, 2019

Loss of Control in Flight: Allen RA2, N952RA; accident occurred August 06, 2017 at Hector Municipal Airport (1D6), Renville County, Minnesota

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

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Minneapolis, Minnesota

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Hector, MN
Accident Number: CEN17LA304
Date & Time: 08/06/2017, 1551 CDT
Registration: N952RA
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 2 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 


The private pilot and passenger were departing on a local flight in the experimental, amateur-built airplane. The pilot reported that, during the takeoff roll, he pulled back on the control stick, but instead of rotating off the runway, the airplane bounced, then pitched straight up. Once airborne, the airplane did not respond to the pilot's control inputs. The pilot reduced the engine power and the airplane stalled. The nose dropped, and the airplane subsequently impacted terrain. Examination found that the control stick was not connected to the elevator bracket. A search of the wreckage did not locate any nut that would have secured the bolt. The pilot reported that he would have used a castellated nut with a cotter pin to secure the bolt; however, he could not remember installing the nut. The airplane had been flown 6 or 7 times before the accident flight and it is likely that the nut backed off during that time. The accident is consistent with a loss of elevator control due to the pilot's failure to properly secure the control stick to the elevator bracket. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's improper installation of the control stick hardware, which resulted in a loss of elevator control in flight.


Control column section - Incorrect service/maintenance (Cause)
Pitch control - Attain/maintain not possible (Cause)

Personnel issues
Installation - Pilot (Cause)

Factual Information

On August 6, 2017, at 1551 central daylight time, an amateur-built RA2 airplane, N952RA, impacted terrain near Hector, Minnesota. The commercial pilot and passenger were seriously injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The local flight was originating from the Hector Municipal Airport (1D6), at the time of the accident.

In an interview with the responding Federal Aviation Administration inspector, the pilot reported that on the takeoff roll, he pulled back on the control stick and the airplane did not take off. It bounced a couple of times and then pitched straight up. The airplane did not respond to the pilot's control inputs; he pushed the control stick forward and did not feel as though he had any elevator control. The pilot added that he reduced the engine power and felt the airplane stall. The nose of the airplane dropped, and the airplane impacted the terrain. Substantial damage was sustained to the fuselage.

Examination of the airplane found that the control stick was not connected to the elevator bracket. A search of the wreckage did not locate any nut that would have secured the bolt. The airplane was recently acquired by the pilot. It was transported in three parts, so the pilot assembled the airplane. When the pilot was queried about how he would have secured the bolt for the control stick, he reported that he would use a castellated nut with a cotter pin. However, he could not remember installing the nut. The airplane had flown 6 or 7 times prior to the accident.

An NTSB Form 6120 was not submitted by the pilot. 

History of Flight

Prior to flight
Aircraft maintenance event

Loss of control in flight (Defining event)
Aerodynamic stall/spin

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 75, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied:
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 11/10/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 08/19/2016
Flight Time:  9200 hours (Total, all aircraft), 500 hours (Total, this make and model), 38 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: ROGER M ALLEN
Registration: N952RA
Model/Series: RA2 NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 599
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection:
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 820 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer:  Rotax
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: 503
Registered Owner: ANDERSON TED E
Rated Power: 50 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: KOVL, 1076 ft msl
Observation Time: 1553 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 14 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 282°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Thin Broken / 10000 ft agl
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C / 15°C
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 10000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots, 60°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.04 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Hector, MN (1D6)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Hector, MN (1D6)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1551 CDT
Type of Airspace: 

Airport Information

Airport: HECTOR MUNI (1D6)
Runway Surface Type: Grass/turf
Airport Elevation: 1077 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Unknown
Runway Used: 05
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 2580 ft / 165 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Serious 
Latitude, Longitude: 44.731111, -94.711944 (est)


  1. Seriously? "the control stick was not connected to the elevator bracket".
    Pilot/owner 75 years old. I'm guessing I wouldn't remember to do that myself in 15 years from now either. I'm lucky I can remember to wipe my butt, but I would never ever build an incompetent aircraft at that age.

  2. One time back in the 60s, I took off in my J3 Cub with both doors wide open and was leaning out to wave at friends on the ground when I realized that my seat belt was not buckled!! I was 17 at the time.........

  3. What has happened to 'Flight controls inspection by 2 people' ? surely this should have been picked up by the inspector of the airframe before flight.
    Too many accidents happening for aircraft not fit for flight for reasons such as this.