Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Innovator Mosquito XE285, N840GS: Fatal accident occurred February 23, 2020 in North Manchester, Wabash County, Indiana

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Indianapolis, Indiana

Location: North Manchester, IN

Accident Number: CEN20FA098
Date & Time: 02/23/2020, 2308 UTC
Registration: N840GS
Aircraft: INNOVATOR Mosquito
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On February 23, 2020, about 1808 eastern standard time, a Spagnolo Innovator XE285 Mosquito experimental helicopter, N840GS, impacted terrain on the pilot's private airstrip near North Manchester, Indiana, during a local flight. The private pilot was fatally injured. The helicopter was substantially damaged. The helicopter was registered to and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions existed at the accident site about the time of the accident, and the flight was operated without a flight plan. The flight originated from the private grass airstrip where the accident occurred.

One witness reported he saw the helicopter flying from a distance 30-45 minutes before the accident. He did not know if the helicopter was over the airstrip or a nearby field, but that the helicopter appeared to be hovering.

Family members told investigators the pilot had purchased the helicopter from a private individual about three years before the accident. The pilot had taken some flight instruction in a helicopter but had limited his flights in the accident helicopter to practicing hovering, taxiing, and landings at their airstrip. They did not witness the accident flight, but believed the pilot was performing the same activities at the time of the accident. They stated the pilot had two hard landings in the accident helicopter prior to the accident.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane, single-engine land. According to his pilot logbooks, he had acquired about 27.9 total helicopter flight hours in the past three years, 18.5 of which were instruction and 9.4 hrs were logged as pilot in command in the accident helicopter. The pilot had not received a solo endorsement to operate helicopters.

The accident site was located on the east end of a private grass airstrip located about three miles west of the center of North Manchester, Indiana. The helicopter wreckage came to rest on its right side. Both aluminum main rotor blades (MRB) remained attached to the rotor mast. One MRB was partially imbedded into the ground and displayed some bending and deformation along its entire length. The second MRB was bent about 70° and exhibited deformation throughout its length. Two impact marks were located on the ground within 3 ft of the nose of the helicopter, one of which was linear. (Figure 1)

Figure 1 - Main Wreckage (FAA Photo) 

The fiberglass tail-boom was separated from the fuselage but was retained by the anti-torque control cable. The tail-rotor assembly remained attached to the tail-boom. One aluminum tail-rotor blade (TRB) was mostly straight. The second TRB was separated from the tail-rotor gearbox about 3 inches outboard of the TRB attachment point on the TRB assembly and was located immediately below the TRB assembly in the wreckage. The separation of the TRB was consistent with impact damage.

Flight control to the main rotor assembly is provided through two push-pull control rods connected to the cyclic and one push-pull control rod connected to the collective. Flight control continuity was continuous from the cyclic and the collective to the swash plate assembly. The main rotor mast was folded forward into the cabin area and continuity was broken on two control rods immediately above the swash plate assembly in a manner consistent with impact. Continuity continued from the breaks in the control rods above the swash plate through the rotor mast to the main rotor blades. Flight control from the anti-torque pedals to the tail rotor assembly was provided through a control cable. Continuity was continuous from both pedals to both tail rotor blades.

Throttle continuity was verified from the collective to the throttle body assembly. The throttle body had separated from the engine at each cylinder's respective intake port. With the wreckage in an upright position, between 1/3 – ½ tank of liquid was present in the 12 gallon main fuel tank as verified using the site tube. About 2 inches of liquid was present in the 8 gallon auxiliary fuel tank when checked by dipping the tank with a rod. Liquid sampled from the main tank was clear of contaminants and water when visually examined. The smell of the liquid from both tanks was consistent with automotive gasoline. Two inline fuel liters were installed on the firewall. Both filters contained liquid consistent with fuel and no contaminants or obstructions were visible.

One sparkplug was removed from each cylinder and both sparkplugs exhibited normal usage patterns. Engine continuity was verified by rotating the radiator fan and observing both pistons move in each respective cylinder and observing the output shaft on top of the engine rotate. Engine compression was verified on each cylinder by placing fingers over the vacant sparkplug holes as the engine was rotated. The helicopter was equipped with a Tiny-Tach GasTach and Hourmeter which displayed 22:06 at the time of the accident.

Two MGL Avionics Stratomaster Velocity engine monitors and a Dynojet Power Commander V fuel injection module were retained for possible data download.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: INNOVATOR
Model/Series: Mosquito XE285
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: Yes
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: FWA, 815 ft msl
Observation Time: 1754 EST
Distance from Accident Site: 35 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 9°C / 0°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots / , 225°
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.1 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: North Manchester, IN (N/A)
Destination: North Manchester, IN (N/A)

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: 40.998056, -85.825556

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

Theodore "Ted" Oldfather
March 7, 1943 ~ February 25, 2020 (age 76)

Theodore “Ted” Oldfather was born March 7, 1943 to Carl and Cleo (Butterbaugh) Oldfather in Warsaw, Indiana. Ted’s father died when he was six months old and Cleo married George Domer until his death a short time later. She then married Keith Wagoner on March 5, 1950.

Ted accepted Christ as his savior when he was 21 years old, and was baptized, becoming part of the Old German Baptist Brethren Church, and the New Conference in 2009. On February 26, 1966, Ted married Marletta Miller of Modesto, California, in a double wedding with Marletta’s sister, Lorraine and Mark Grover. This week would have been their 54th wedding anniversary. The Lord blessed Ted and Marletta with 3 sons and 1 daughter. They raised their family in the North Manchester, Indiana area, at the family farm.

Ted was in a tragic accident on February 23, 2020 and remained unresponsive until he was pronounced legally deceased on February 25, 2020.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Carl and Cleo, George Domer, and Keith Wagoner; a granddaughter, Autumn Sage Oldfather.

Left to mourn his passing are his wife, Marletta; his children, Todd (Sabe), John (Heidi), Julie Roughia, and Mark (Kim); 11 grandchildren, Hayly and Cheyenne Oldfather, Hannah (Preston Penrod) Dalrymple, Parkur Dalrymple, Gabrielle and Sophia Oldfather, Ian and Owen Roughia, Sierra, Brooke, and Jorden Oldfather; Marletta’s siblings, Lorraine (Mark) Grover, Byron (Bonnie) Miller, Lowell (Rochelle) Miller, and Gary (Patty) Miller; a step-sister, Carol Domer; a special family friend, Peggy Lewis, a loving church family, and many many friends.

Ted was a self-employed farmer, owner, and operator of Oldfather Grain, North Manchester since 1978. Since Ted chose to be an organ donor, his family was asked by the Indiana Donor Network to share memories of his life. Through both tears and laughter, the following was written by the family and read in the operating room before removing his organs for donation:

 He loved God and family. People were drawn to him by his integrity, character, and great smile. He was patient. He loved family and flying and fun; he had an adventurous spirit, he loved playing with his grandkids. He was caring and he often helped people. He loved animals, especially Border Collies and cattle. He loved the outdoors. He was encouraging. If you saw his chin quivering, you knew you were in trouble. After many years of practiced lessons from his daughter’s-in-law, he became a hugger. He and his wife, Marletta, would sing together - he loved music. They had the opportunity to travel to many beautiful and interesting places. He was a very hard worker. He ate bread with milk on it and always dunked a cookie in his coffee at breakfast. Owen’s favorite memory was fishing with his grandpa. The family is comforted knowing others received the gift of life during this difficult time of his passing.

Family and friends may call Friday, February 28, 2020 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the West Manchester German Baptist Church, 1013 State Road 114 West, North Manchester, Indiana 46962. Visitation on Saturday, February 29, 2020 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the West Manchester church. Funeral services for Ted will be held Sunday, March 1, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. at the North Manchester Old German Baptist Brethren Church, 12508 North State Road 13, North Manchester, Indiana 46962. Burial immediately following at Pleasant Hill Cemetery, 1013 State Road 114 West, North Manchester, Indiana.  Those wishing to honor Ted's memory may direct contributions to Christian Aid Ministries SALT Program, P.O. Box 360 Berlin, OH  44610.  Arrangements are entrusted to McKee Mortuary.

NORTH MANCHESTER, Indiana (Fort Wayne's NBC) - A representative of the Allen County coroner's office says the pilot of a small helicopter that crashed in a farm field was declared brain dead Monday.

The spokesperson says that is the criteria used for determining if death has occurred.

The pilot is identified as 76-year old Theodore "Ted" Oldfather.

Oldfather had been rushed to Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne Sunday evening after the one-seat helicopter he was piloting went down in a field on his farm property about a mile and a half west of North Manchester.

Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, and National Transportation Safety Board are working to determine what went wrong.

The one-seat lightweight "rotorcraft" crashed after 6 pm Sunday on what appeared to be a grass airstrip.

Investigators hoped to be able to speak to any witnesses that might shed light on a cause.

The farmer had been a flying enthusiast for close to 50 years.

"It's what he lived for is flying. It's really fun to see him, he always got excited about flying, and even when he couldn't fly he'd say, talk about how nice of a day it was, he'd be like, man, I'd like to be flying today," said Carson Fingerle, who works with Oldfather's son.

Original article can be found here ➤

NORTH MANCHESTER, Indiana (WPTA21) - The Allen County Coroner's office confirmed to ABC 21 that 76-year old Theodore "Ted" Oldfather was declared brain dead Monday from injuries suffered in a helicopter crash.

A spokesperson for the coroner said that is the criteria used for determining if death has occurred.

The official FAA record on the crash was updated to include one fatality.

Oldfather had been rushed to Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne Sunday evening after the one-seat helicopter he was piloting went down in a field on his farm property about a mile and a half west of North Manchester.

Original article can be found here ➤

1 comment:

  1. These single seat helicopters are tricky no transition training. Lot of guys buy these and get 10-15 hours of training in a Robinson fly them under part 103 ultralight.