Saturday, May 09, 2020

Loss of Control in Flight: Flightstar II, Unregistered; accident occurred April 20, 2020 at Oakdale Airport (O27), Stanislaus 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: Oakdale, California
Accident Number: WPR20CA127
Date & Time: April 19, 2020, 17:45 Local 
Registration: UNREGISTERED
Aircraft: FLIGHTstar II 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal


The noncertificated pilot reported that the airplane departed the runway and that, during the initial climb, it could not gain altitude. He attempted to return to the runway, but the airplane landed hard in an orchard. The pilot later reported that, before takeoff, a large helicopter was hovering close to the runway and that he believed the his airplane "entered…[the helicopter's] rotor wash and lost lift." The airplane sustained substantial damage to the wings. The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The noncertificated pilot's decision to take off through a large helicopter's rotor wash, which resulted in his inability to gain altitude during takeoff.


Personnel issues Decision making/judgment - Pilot
Personnel issues Total experience - Pilot
Personnel issues Aircraft control - Pilot
Aircraft Altitude - Attain/maintain not possible

Factual Information

History of Flight

Prior to flight Ground handling event
Initial climb Loss of control in flight (Defining event)
Initial climb Collision during takeoff/land

Pilot Information

Certificate: None, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None 
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None 
Restraint Used: Unknown
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:

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Flightstar II
Registration: UNREGISTERED
Model/Series: 2 SL 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1997 
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Unknown 
Serial Number: 194
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle 
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 
Engine Manufacturer: HKS
Engine Model/Series: 33777
Registered Owner:
Rated Power:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC)
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KMOD,73 ft msl 
Distance from Accident Site: 11 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 00:53 Local 
Direction from Accident Site: 223°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 5500 ft AGL 
Visibility: 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 7500 ft AGL 
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 13 knots / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 310° 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.05 inches Hg 
Temperature/Dew Point: 18°C / 7°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Oakdale, CA (O27)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 
Type of Airspace: Unknown

Airport Information

Airport: Oakdale O27
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 236 ft msl
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 28 
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3013 ft / 75 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 37.756389,-120.795555(est)

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