Sunday, March 22, 2020

Aerodynamic Stall/Spin: Kolb Firestar II, N9216E; accident occurred May 11, 2018 near Atmore Municipal Airport (OR1), Escambia County, Alabama

Struck tree and wreckage. 
Federal Aviation Administration

Struck tree and struck powerline.
Federal Aviation Administration

Federal Aviation Administration

Left side
Federal Aviation Administration

Federal Aviation Administration

Underside close up.
Federal Aviation Administration

Right side
Federal Aviation Administration

Thirty (30) seconds prior to takeoff.

Just after takeoff.


Right bank just prior to accident.

Left bank just prior to accident.

Impact tree

Just prior to ground impact. 

Post impact

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

Additional Participating Entity: 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Vestavia Hills, Alabama

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Atmore, AL
Accident Number: WPR18LA142
Date & Time: 05/11/2018, 1203 CDT
Registration: N9216E
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Aerodynamic stall/spin
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On May 11, 2018, about 1203 central daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Kolb Firestar 2 airplane, N9216E, sustained substantial damage when it impacted a tree and terrain near Atmore, Alabama. The non-certificated pilot was seriously injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and no flight plan was filed. The local flight had departed Atmore Municipal Airport (OR1), Atmore, Alabama about 13 minutes prior to the accident.

According to the pilot, he was in cruise flight at an altitude of about 600 ft above ground level (agl) when the airplane began "swaying left and right;" the pilot clarified that the airplane was "not yawing or rolling." He was unable to get the airplane "to straighten out," so he began a descent. When it was about 40 ft agl, the airplane struck a tree, and then a powerline, and then impacted the ground.

The airplane came to rest inverted on the lawn of a private residence, and the fuselage, tail boom, and wings were substantially damaged.

Pilot Information

Certificate: None
Age: 47, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: None None
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  36 hours (Total, all aircraft), 4 hours (Total, this make and model), 4 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft) 

The pilot's flight logbook was recovered from the wreckage. The logbook indicated that the pilot had accrued about 32 hours in Cessna airplanes more than 20 years ago, but then ceased flying until September 2017, when the pilot logged some time in an Aeronca Champ. The pilot's accident report stated that he had accrued a total flight time of 36.1 hours, including 13.6 hours as pilot in command, and 4 hours in the airplane accident make and model in the last 90 days. A search of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records did not reveal any pilot or medical certificates for the pilot.

The pilot's wife reported that this was the first time to her knowledge that the pilot had flown the airplane. She reported that he had previously taxied the airplane, and conducted "crow hopping" exercises in it as well. She defined crow hopping as a maneuver where the pilot would accelerate on the runway and allow the airplane to become momentarily airborne before touching down and stopping.

For undetermined reasons, the pilot erroneously reported a departure time of 1030, and an accident time of 1045, in his written account of the accident.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: KOLB
Model/Series: FIRESTAR II
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2017
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 01-17
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection:  Unknown
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 630 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 45 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Rotax
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: 503
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 50 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

The kit-built airplane was registered to the pilot about a year before the accident, but he was not the builder of the airplane. The airplane structure consisted primarily of aluminum tubing covered with fabric skin. The airplane was equipped with a 50 hp Rotax 503 series engine mounted in an overwing pusher configuration. Pilot-provided information indicated that the airframe had a total time (TT) in service of about 45 hours, and the engine had a TT of about 96 hours. No maintenance records were provided to the investigation. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: NSE
Distance from Accident Site: 29 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1156 CDT
Direction from Accident Site: 135°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 6000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 6 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / Unknown
Wind Direction: 160°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / Unknown
Altimeter Setting: 30.13 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C / 12°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Atmore, AL (OR1)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Atmore, AL (OR1)
Type of Clearance: Unknown
Departure Time: 1157 CDT
Type of Airspace: Unknown 

The 1156 automated weather observation at an airport located about 29 miles southeast of the accident site included wind from 160° at 6 knots, visibility 10 miles, few clouds at 6,000 ft, temperature 31°C, dew point 12°C, and an altimeter setting of 30.13 inches of mercury.

Inflight images depicted clear skies, and were consistent with little or no wind. 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 31.016111, -87.446667 (est) 

The accident site was located about 4 miles east-northeast of OR1. Evidence indicated that the airplane struck a tree about 25 yards away from where the airplane came to rest, and that it also struck at least one powerline between the tree and the ground impact point. Ground scars indicated little to no horizontal travel during or after ground impact.

The two FAA inspectors who responded to the accident site on the day of the accident conducted a limited examination of the aircraft, and did not observe any pre-impact damage. Throttle and flight control continuity was unable to be verified. The ailerons, elevator, and rudder all remained securely attached to their respective airfoils and control links. Impact damage precluded determination of the pre-accident integrity of the aircraft structure or its control systems.

The fuel tank was approximately ¾ full, and there was fuel in the bowls of each of the two carburetors. The exhaust manifold was removed from the engine to examine the pistons and cylinders, and no pre-impact damage or abnormalities were observed.

Additional Information

A GoPro brand video camera was found attached to the exterior of the aircraft. Review of the data on the camera's memory card indicated that the camera recorded the entire accident flight. The camera was mounted low on the outside of the right fuselage, faced forward, and did not capture any aerodynamic surfaces, instruments, controls, or the engine/propeller. Except when the pilot's arm reached out of the cockpit to adjust the camera or something near it, the camera did not capture any of the pilot's anatomy.

The following events (in file elapsed time, format MM:SS) were observed during review of the video file. The airplanet began taxiing on the ramp about 00:15, and stopped on the midfield perpendicular taxiway about 01:20. About 01:48 he resumed taxiing towards the runway, and then the airplane crossed the point-hold line, and entered the airport movement area. About 02:30 the airplane stopped in the movement area between the point hold line and the runway, and remained there for about 30 seconds before entering the runway. The airplane turned left (south) onto the runway, and took about 1 1/2 minutes to taxi to the runway 36 end. The airplane remained at the left (east) side of the runway for that entire taxi. The aircraft remained on the runway 36 end for about 2 1/2 minutes before it began its takeoff roll. The 14 second takeoff roll was conducted well to the right of the runway centerline. About 2 minutes after takeoff, when the airplane appeared to be level at an altitude of about 500 to 750 ft above ground level, the airplane made a right turn to a heading of east. During the next 3 minutes, the altitude appeared to decrease slowly, and the heading drifted towards the northeast. About 12:30, the airplane turned right, towards the southeast. 20 seconds later, the airplane turned right to a heading of south, and then began maneuvers consistent with an aerodynamic stall. The airplane first banked and turned sharply right, the nose pitched down, and then the airplane banked and turned sharply left, descending rapidly during this sequence. The left and right turns both appeared to result in approximate 180° heading changes. About 13:00, the airplane struck a tree and then impacted the ground. The airplane was descending rapidly in a wings level attitude, and with a forward horizontal velocity component, when it struck the tree. About 14 seconds after the airplane came to rest, significant image vibration, similar to that resulting from engine operation, ceased. The file ended at 17:42; there was no visible activity or camera movement between the time of ground impact and the end of the file. 


  1. Hope the leg injury got well, need all the healthy railroad crews on duty to keep America's railfreight moving. 65 days in the hospital is a warning to others - don't fly without training!

  2. He gave it 'the ol' college try'


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