Saturday, September 21, 2019

Loss of Control in Flight: PZL-104 Draco Turbine Wilga, N123T; accident occurred September 16, 2019 at Reno/Stead Airport (KRTS), Nevada

View of damage to both wings. 

POH Information

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Reno, Nevada

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Reno, NV
Accident Number: GAA19CA550
Date & Time: 09/16/2019, 1015 PDT
Registration: N123T
Aircraft: Pzl Okecie PZL104
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 3 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

The pilot of the tailwheel equipped airplane reported that prior to departure, while he refueled the airplane and taxied to the runway, the wind was "picking up and gusting" but "were comfortably within [his] personal and aircraft limits." During takeoff, as he "rolled on the power," the right wing started to lift so he corrected with full control input left but the airplane rolled to the right and impacted terrain. The pilot added that he did not get a wind check

The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings and fuselage.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The airport's automated weather observation station reported that, about the time of the accident, the wind was 220° at 24 knots, gusting to 38 knots. The airplane was departing from runway 26.

According to the manufacturer's Pilot's Operating Handbook for an unmodified airplane, the maximum demonstrated crosswind is 11.7 knots.

The steady state crosswind component for the accident flight was 15 knots, with gusting winds, the crosswind component for the accident flight was 24 knots.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 47, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam:03/14/2018 
Occupational Pilot:Yes 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 03/15/2019
Flight Time:   (Estimated) 10350 hours (Total, all aircraft), 300 hours (Total, this make and model), 9700 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 70 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 15 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Pzl Okecie
Registration: N123T
Model/Series: PZL104 M
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 00060024
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 07/10/2019, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3500 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Turbo Prop
Airframe Total Time: 695 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Pratt & Whitney
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: PT6-28
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 680 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: KRTS, 5053 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1655 UTC
Direction from Accident Site:  164°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  7 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 24 knots / 38 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / Convective
Wind Direction:  220°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.87 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 17°C / -3°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point:  Reno, NV (RTS)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Spanish Fork, UT (SPK)
Type of Clearance: VFR; VFR Flight Following
Departure Time: 1015 PDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Reno/Stead (RTS)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 5050 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 26
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 7608 ft / 150 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Fire:None 
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 None
Latitude, Longitude:  39.668056, -119.876389 (est)

Update, 1:57 p.m.

A small single-engine aircraft had a "wind related incident" during takeoff at the Reno-Stead Airport this morning, causing it to crash, according to a statement from the STIHL National Championship Air Races. 

The crash caused "extensive damage" to the aircraft, according to the statement, but the pilot and two passengers on board were able to exit the plane unharmed. 

The air races did not elaborate on what a "wind related incident" was or how it caused the aircraft to crash. 

The aircraft was a static display at the Air Races, which ended yesterday, but did not race. 

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident. 

Original Story 

Emergency crews are responding to reports of a down plane at the Reno Stead Airport.

Crews are on scene at the aviation facility 15 miles north of Reno.

The airport is owned and operated by the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority and was most recently the site of the National Championship Air Races, a yearly event that features hundreds of aircraft. 

No other information was immediately available but staff at the airport said wind could be a factor. 

Original article can be found here ➤


  1. For incident video and pilot's narrative, see YouTube video titled "Draco crash today". Although the aircraft was heavily damaged, it would appear that turboprop/engine mount and more could be swapped on to another Wilga and have another go after refurbishment - would please so many admirers.

  2. After watching the video. I thought the wings spars folded up quickly rather than holding up the plane into a ground loop. This is a strut less wing design with maybe less strength, or maybe overloaded due to mods.

  3. It looks like the wingtip tanks were installed from the youtube video. Were the wingtip tanks full or partially full? If the added tanks had much fuel it could be a contributing factor to the crash since Draco's yaw and roll inertia would be significantly increased, severely limiting the rudder and aileron authority at lower airspeed (and effort to get Draco into the wind quickly). These kind of changes to the aircraft dynamics are the things that keep us loads and dynamics (and flying qualities) guys up at night....
    Hope to see a Draco 2.0, but mods should be carefully considered....