Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Aerodynamic Stall / Spin: SIAI Marchetti SM-1019, N16XC; accident occurred September 07, 2019 in Lakeport, Lake County, California

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Sacramento, California

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Lakeport, California
Accident Number: GAA19CA528
Date & Time: September 7, 2019, 16:00 Local 
Registration: N16XC
Aircraft: SIAI-MARCHETTI SM 1019 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Aerodynamic stall/spin 
Injuries: 2 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal


The pilot of the float-equipped airplane reported that, while taking off from a lake, the airplane accelerated, became airborne and that, about 40 ft above the water, he retracted the flaps. The airplane pitched down, and the left wing dropped. He attempted to correct to no avail, and the airplane impacted the water.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, empennage, and both wings.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation. He added that he believed P factor caused the left roll because the airplane aerodynamically stalled and would not correct despite his attempts to do so. He also stated that he had accrued 5 hours in the airplane make and model, 2 hours of which occurred in the preceding 30 days.

The pilot reported that it was a very windy, gusty day and that the wind was variable. An automated weather observation station located 15 miles west of the accident site reported that, about the time of the accident, the wind was from 300° at 14 knots, gusting to 20 knots. The airplane was departing to the south.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's exceedance of the airplane's critical angle of attack during takeoff in gusting, variable wind conditions, which resulted in a loss of airplane control and subsequent impact with water. 


Personnel issues Aircraft control - Pilot
Aircraft Angle of attack - Not attained/maintained
Environmental issues Gusts - Effect on operation
Environmental issues Variable wind - Effect on operation
Personnel issues Total experience - Pilot

Factual Information

History of Flight

Takeoff Aerodynamic stall/spin (Defining event)
Takeoff Attempted remediation/recovery
Uncontrolled descent Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 72, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/12/2019
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 01/09/2019
Flight Time:   (Estimated) 7777 hours (Total, all aircraft), 5 hours (Total, this make and model), 7777 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 64 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 27 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 5 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N16XC
Model/Series: SM 1019
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1979
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 045
Landing Gear Type: Amphibian
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/03/2019, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2800 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Turbo Prop
Airframe Total Time: 1639.05 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Allison
ELT: C126 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: 250-B15G
Registered Owner: Pacific Coast Air Museum
Rated Power:
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: KUKI, 626 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 15 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2256 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 291°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 14 knots / 20 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 300°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.99 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 22°C / 11°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Lakeport, CA
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1554 PDT
Type of Airspace: Class G  

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 39.039444, -122.907778 (est)

LAKEPORT — Saturday morning at the Natural High property in Lakeport began quietly with seaplanes of all makes parked in the field, until the wind picked up in the afternoon, causing a seaplane to crash into the lake.

The pilot of a SIAI Marchetti had departed from the event. As the plane rose to upwards of 100 feet off the water, a gust of wind came over the trees lining the bank, creating a wind shear sending the plane crashing into the lake, breaking the plane in two, crushing the windshield, shearing off the propeller and destroying the left wing.

The pilot and a passenger were rescued and an ambulance took them to the hospital. Deputy B. Bosse of the Lake County Sheriff Department’s marine patrol, who came to oversee the crash, said the unidentified pilot was “lucky that he and his passenger only had cuts and bruises.”

A crowd raced to help as the seaplane was hauled out of the water by a truck owned and driven by Gregg Hierolzer. In the field of Natural High, onlookers surveyed the mangled seaplane. Only the pontoons seemed to be in good shape.

Splash In event

Sponsored by the Lake County Chamber of Commerce, the Splash In is in its 40th year and accidents are not unheard of. Steve Hamilton, who helped haul out the SIAI Marchetti, said he crashed his seaplane two years ago, but it’s not always the pilot’s fault. “It’s often a swift change in the weather.”

Clear Lake is not unfamiliar to seaplanes. According to military websites, during WWII, Clear Lake was used as an outlying seaplane base for Alameda Naval Air Station. It was also used when seaplanes couldn’t land in San Francisco Bay due to unsafe landing conditions.

Melissa Fulton, Lake County Chamber of Commerce CEO, said that approximately 22 seaplanes were scheduled to fly in and a crowd of 800 to 900 was anticipated at Saturday’s event.

Scott Herring, 54, from Georgetown, Calif., near Auburn, flew his 2015 Carbon Cub to the Splash In. “I’ve been flying since I was 16.” He laughed and said, “I have seven airplanes, which is why I’m not married.” The yellow-shirted ramp staff, made up of seventh and 10th graders, helped park his plane by rolling it into place. “This is a great treat,” Herring said, “to come to this event.”

Viet Nam vet, Lee Cook, 72, flew as an air crewman during the war. This is his 18th year volunteering for Splash In. This year he’s the ramp boss, who makes sure the landing and take-off of each plane is safe. Cook spoke about the low cloudy weather. “The low clouds are great for these airplanes. They don’t have air conditioning and the pilots like it overcast because there’s so much heat inside the airplane. Vision is good, also, without the glare of the sun.” Cook pointed to the far side of the field where a blue tent sat. “The Sea Scouts,” he said, “are used for security. They stayed overnight in that tent. They’re used to boats not planes, but they’re learning.”

The planes rolled into the lake from the temporary ramp and took off in the water with the dark humps of Mount Konocti in the distance.

Local pilot Damon Trimble, came to talk with other pilots and to look at the seaplanes. “I’ve got a Mooney, a single-engined aircraft, not a seaplane.” He was especially interested in the small Icon amphibious light-sport aircraft. It has no pontoons, but a specially designed hull, and doesn’t need a pilot’s license to fly it, he said.

Tom Beattie, piloted the Icon that Trimble was looking at, from Vacaville. It was his first time at the Lakeport Splash In, although he has piloted a lot of demos for Icon Aircraft, and at other Splash Ins. He personally owns a land plane, a Piper Archer. “The weather here,” he said, “is great. Calm, cool and the clouds aid in depth perception, which is perfect for seaplanes.” Beattie, 64, said he’s been flying for 46 years.

“It’s always fun to have these smaller events in Lake County,” said David Velazquez who also attended the Taste of Lake County event. “The Splash In is so unique and the seaplanes come from all over.” He looked at the Light Sport built by Capt. Ray Shipway of Cloverdale who was helping direct people over a portable microphone. Shipway told Velazquez that to fly his Light Sport, a pilot’s license is needed because it’s a two-seater. As a retired captain for the Merchant Marine, Shipway said, “I’ve been doing this for 15 years and we really appreciate how the city has taken care of the field.”

District 4 Supervisor for Lake County, Tina Scott and her husband Douglas, showed up as she always does for Lake County events. Eager to support the county, she said, “What a great way to showcase Lake County; from the air and the water.”

An Iraq Marine veteran, David Vogel flew from Santa Rosa just for this Splash In. “I like air events. I’ve been here five times,” he said while watching the competitions of several seaplanes.

Two competitions took place after Ryan Contioso handed a giant inner tube painted bright orange on one side to the owner of the boat Carol Ann, who volunteered to anchor the inner tube off shore. It was a target for water bomb drops – half-filled water bottles flagged with ribbons for easy retrieval. The closest drop to the inner tube would win. The second competition was a Spot Landing, in which the pilot was to land as close to the inner tube as possible.

Alberto Rossi won the Water Bomb Drop in his beige 172 Cessna. Roger Stevens won the Spot Landing in his yellow Super Cub.

Byron Hernandez, 32, an Air Force Reserve pilot who flies a 757 for United Airlines, flew his amphibious Cessna 206 from San Rafael. “This is a great place to meet other seaplane pilots and expose seaplane flying to the community. All it takes is showing one kid the inside of an airplane for them to catch the bug. That’s what happened to me at 8-years-old.”

Original article can be found here ➤


  1. famous last word on causation.
    "but it’s not always the pilot’s fault. “It’s often a swift change in the weather.”