Monday, March 30, 2020

Loss of Control in Flight: Solo Wings Windlass; fatal accident occurred September 28, 2019 near Pratermill Flight Park Airport (GA72), Dalton, Whitfield County, Georgia

Michael Lynn Green
May 1st, 1958 - September 28th, 2019

View of Aircraft from Front. 
Federal Aviation Administration 

 View of Aircraft from Front.
Federal Aviation Administration

View of Aircraft from Left Wingtip. 
Federal Aviation Administration 

 View of Aircraft from Left Rear. 
Federal Aviation Administration

Engine and Propeller Assembly.

Fractured Propeller Blades – Notes Chordwise Scratching.

Weight-Shift Aircraft Wing and Frame.

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Atlanta, Georgia

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Location: Dalton, GA
Accident Number: ERA19LA286
Date & Time: 09/28/2019, 1909 EDT
Registration: UNREG
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On September 28, 2019, at 1909 eastern daylight time, an unregistered amateur-built experimental light-sport Solo Wings Windlass weight-shift control aircraft was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain shortly after takeoff from Pratermill Flight Park, Dalton, Georgia. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. The aircraft was privately owned and operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight.

According to the aircraft owner, he purchased the aircraft in 1998 and had flown it about 200 hours before putting it into storage for about 10 years. When the accident pilot expressed an interest in flying the aircraft and started taking lessons in weight-shift control aircraft, the owner took the aircraft out of storage and replaced the fuel lines, fuel filter, tires, tubes, wing spar bungee cord, primer, throttle cable, and battery. He then flew the aircraft a total of 4 to 5 hours since those repairs, with no anomalies noted. On the day of the accident, the owner completed a 30-minute flight and noted no anomalies. The pilot, who had not previously flown the accident aircraft, asked if he could fly it. The owner questioned if he was ready, to which the pilot responded, "yes," and the owner agreed.

The owner witnessed the accident flight and stated that the aircraft rotated about 300 ft down the turf runway and then climbed to an altitude above tree level. The aircraft then turned left and seemed to "falter in the turn" before falling to the ground.

A witness located on the property adjacent to the airport observed the aircraft fly south before making an easterly turn toward his property. He stated that the aircraft "lost lift in the turn and seemed to stall" then made an uncontrolled, turning descent toward the ground. He stated that the engine "revved higher than normal" at the time of the turn.


According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airmen records, the pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with a rating for airplane multi-engine land, with commercial pilot privileges for glider and airplane single-engine land. He also held a flight instructor certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine. He was issued an FAA first-class medical certificate on August 28, 2018. At that time, the pilot reported 18,870 total hours of flight experience.

The pilot's flight instructor reported that he had provided the accident pilot about 14 to 16 hours of flight instruction in the 2 months preceding the accident. He considered the pilot one of his better students and stated that he had a good piloting sense. He stated that the pilot was ready for a check ride with another flight instructor to demonstrate proficiency for a weight-shift category endorsement. However, the pilot had not performed such a check ride and did not hold a sport pilot certificate with an endorsement for weight-shift-control-land aircraft. Review of the pilot's logbook showed 13 hours of instruction. The pilot had not logged any flight experience in the accident aircraft.


The two-seat weight-shift control aircraft was equipped with a cable-braced hang glider-style high-wing, tricycle landing gear, and a single Rotax 503, 50-horsepower engine in a pusher configuration.


Examination of the accident site and wreckage revealed that the aircraft came to rest beyond a tree line and in a fenced pasture located about 450 ft east of runway 17. The wing remained largely intact; however, the structural tubes were bent and fractured in several locations. The landing gear was separated from the fuselage. The aircraft was equipped with an airframe parachute; however, it had not been deployed. Grass along the debris field from the main wreckage displayed blighting consistent with fuel spillage. The 10-gallon fuel tank was separated from the aircraft and punctured and came to rest about 25 ft from the fuselage. Continuity of the throttle cable, wing brace cables, and control bar linkage was confirmed.

The composite, ground-adjustable propeller blades were fractured and fragmented near the blade roots; the propeller hub remained attached to the engine. Examination of the blades revealed chordwise scratching and leading edge damage on the surfaces. The leading edge strip on one blade was deformed from impact. The fibers on the fractured areas near the hub were bent in the direction opposite of rotation.

The engine case was free of cracks or holes. One of the two carburetors was missing. The owner reported that it was not found during the wreckage recovery. The recovered carburetor was separated from the engine during impact. It was normal in appearance. The fuel pump was normal in appearance. The in-line fuel filter was clean and unobstructed. Spark plugs were removed and showed normal wear. The engine rotated freely through several rotations with thumb compression observed and no other damage noted.


The Whitfield County, Georgia Coroner did not perform an autopsy or toxicological testing.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 61, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Glider
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 08/18/2018
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: (Estimated) 18870 hours (Total, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: SOLO WINGS
Registration: UNREG
Model/Series: WINDLASS
Aircraft Category: Weight-Shift
Year of Manufacture: 1998
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate:
Serial Number: None
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 11/08/1999, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 772 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 100 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 207.6 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Rotax
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: 503
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 53 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: DNN, 708 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 12 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1915 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 270°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: Calm /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: Unknown / Unknown
Wind Direction:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.13 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 30°C / 20°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Dalton, GA (GA72)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Dalton, GA (GA72)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1909 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Pratermill Flight Park (GA72)
Runway Surface Type: Grass/turf
Airport Elevation: 780 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry; Vegetation
Runway Used: 17
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 1500 ft / 60 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Traffic Pattern

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: 34.883333, -84.888889 (est)

1 comment:

  1. We lost a pilot who had flown almost 20,000 hours in just a few seconds of weight shift flight. Flight can be a cruel mistress.


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