Saturday, June 27, 2020

Thatcher CX4, N274DR: Accident occurred June 24, 2020 at Cable Airport (KCCB), San Bernardino County, California

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 did not travel to the scene of this accident.

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

Location: Upland, CA 
Accident Number: WPR20LA193
Date & Time: June 24, 2020, 11:45 Local
Registration: N274DR
Aircraft: Thatcher CX4 
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On June 24, 2020, about 1145 Pacific daylight time, a Thatcher CX4, N274DR, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident at Cable Airport (CCB), Upland, California. The pilot was seriously injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot reported that he was returning to CCB following an uneventful local flight when the propeller separated from the engine. He was about 1 mile from the airport at an altitude of about 1,100 ft above ground level (agl) at the time. The pilot said that oil covered the windscreen and canopy, restricting forward visibility; however, he continued to fly toward the airport. When the airplane crossed the threshold of the runway, it was about 50 ft agl, and "going way too fast," as he was trying to look out to the side to keep the airplane aligned with the runway. The airplane touched down near the end of the runway and bounced. As it neared a large dirt berm, the pilot applied full left rudder, but the airplane impacted the ground and came to rest upright.

Postaccident examination of the airplane by the pilot revealed that both wings and fuselage were structurally damaged. The propeller assembly and a portion of the engine crankshaft was separated and not located.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Thatcher 
Registration: N274DR
Model/Series: CX4 No Series 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: Yes
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KCCB,1439 ft msl
Observation Time: 18:55 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 27°C /15°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots / , 220°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 8 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.86 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Upland, CA (CCB) 
Destination: Upland, CA (CCB)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 34.109443,-117.694999

UPLAND, California (KABC) -- It was a harrowing plane crash captured on video, and now the pilot who survived it recalls the frightening ordeal.

David Reser, 80, spoke to Eyewitness News about the moment the small plane he was piloting crashed while attempting to land at an airport in Upland Wednesday afternoon.

Reser faced two major problems. The propeller of the plane flew off and oil suddenly covered his windshield, forcing him to fly blind.

"It was a real surprise when the propeller went off. It came off the airplane, but I didn't have a sudden fear," he said. "I've always practiced off-field landings or deadstick landings. Now I get to do one."

"Mayday, Mayday! Just lost my propeller, there is oil all over the screen," Reser says in released audio tapes.

Reser relied on his 48 years of flying experience. Wanting to avoid homes in the area, he dove for the runway looking over the side to try to stay on course, but he was coming in too fast and too high. He knew he wasn't going to make the runway.

"My first thought was when the wingtip hit and it was starting to turn, I thought, 'So, this is the way you die, huh,'" he said. "That was the only thought I had."

AIR7 HD was over the scene as the aircraft hit the runway at Cable Airport, bounced into the air and came to a rest in a field.

The long-time pilot suffered minor injuries and was rescued from the plane by emergency crews after he was trapped in the cockpit.

He was seen shortly afterward walking around.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the aircraft was a homebuilt kit plane. His Thatcher CX4 took him six years to build.

Despite the close call, he says he can't wait to get back in the air.

"They always say any landing you walk away from is a good one," he said.

A single-engine aircraft went off the runway at Cable Airport in Upland after landing shortly before noon Wednesday, June 24. The pilot sustained minor injuries, authorities said.

There were no immediate reports of a fire or fuel leak, said Jimmy Schiller, a spokesman for the San Bernardino County Fire Department, which was called to the scene in the area of 2100 West Foothill Boulevard.

The pilot was the only person on board the Thatcher CX4 experimental aircraft, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, which will investigate the crash. The FAA was notified around 11:45 a.m Gregor said.

Records show the plane is owned by a Fullerton man, who also is a licensed pilot. The pilot at the controls of the Thatcher CX4  was not identified as of Wednesday afternoon.

The pilot had to be freed from the aircraft before he could be taken to a hospital, Schiller said.

The experimental Thatcher CX4 aircraft, in the livery of a World War II “Flying Tiger” plane, was removed from the area by forklift-and-crane rig later in the day.

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