Sunday, August 16, 2020

Aerotechnik L-13 SEH Vivat, N334BA: Accident occurred August 16, 2020 at William "Tiny" Zehnder Field Airport (66G), Frankenmuth, Saginaw County, Michigan

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Grand Rapids, Michigan

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Frankenmuth, MI
Accident Number:CEN20CA337
Date & Time: 08/16/2020, 1454 EDT
Registration: N334BA
Aircraft: Evektor Aerotechnik L13
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Miscellaneous/other
Injuries: 2 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal


The pilot reported that following a landing and back-taxi in a motor glider, he failed to stow the speed brake prior to attempting a subsequent takeoff. During the takeoff attempt, the glider would not climb out of ground effect. The motor glider departed the end of the runway and impacted terrain which resulted in substantial damage to the fuselage.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to stow the speed brake prior to attempting takeoff.


Personnel issues Forgotten action/omission - Pilot
Personnel issues Use of equip/system - Pilot
Aircraft Brake - Incorrect use/operation

Factual Information

History of Flight

Prior to flight Miscellaneous/other (Defining event)
Takeoff Runway excursion
Takeoff Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 55, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied:
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Glider
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: None
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot:No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Evektor Aerotechnik
Registration: N334BA
Model/Series: L13 SEH
Aircraft Category: Glider
Year of Manufacture: 1994
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 940517
Landing Gear Type:
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection:
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection:
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer:
Engine Model/Series:
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power:
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:
Distance from Accident Site:
Observation Time:
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts:
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting:
Temperature/Dew Point:
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point: Frankenmuth, MI (66G)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Frankenmuth, MI (66G)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: EDT
Type of Airspace:

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Grass/turf
Airport Elevation: 639 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Unknown
Runway Used: 09
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 2500 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 43.314167, -83.711389 (est)

FRANKENMUTH, Michigan (WJRT) (08/16/2020)-Developing news out of Frankenmuth where police were on the scene of a powered-glider crash.

ABC 12 was within feet of the crash site, which dug into the ditch at the end of the runway.

Take a look at the scene outside of Frankenmuth just about an hour and a half ago.

Our news team got off the phone with Police Chief Mower, who told ABC 12 there were two people onboard the powered-glider when it crashed on take-off just prior to 3:00 Sunday afternoon, neither of whom were seriously injured.

The pilot, a Clio man in his 50s, is believed to have a potential broken wrist. The passenger, from Birch Run, also in his 50s, is believed to have a problem with his knee.

Police tell ABC 12 the pilot actually dialed 911 when they couldn’t get out of the powered-glider. The Frankenmuth Fire Department had to pull both of them from the cockpit.

A search of the tail number found the powered-glider was registered in Clio and is an Aerotechnik L-13 SEH Vivat.

What exactly happened remains unclear.

ABC 12 is still in touch with police and will bring you all of that information as it develops.

The FAA will launch an investigation to determine what went wrong.

Frankenmuth Fire Department

Frankenmuth Engine-1, Engine-2, Squad-4 and Brush-7 responded you the Frankenmuth airport around three o’clock this afternoon for a reported plane crash. Upon arrival both patients were stable and had minor injuries. Also on scene were Mobile Medical Response and Frankenmuth Police Department. Please try to avoid the area of Block and Curtis until the FAA and FPD can complete their investigation.

FRANKENMUTH TWP, Michigan – Two people were hospitalized with minor injuries after their powered-glider crashed Sunday afternoon in Frankenmuth Township.

Frankenmuth police and fire were dispatched shortly before 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16 to William “Tiny” Zehnder Field off South Block Road for a report of a powered-glider crash.

Frankenmuth Fire Chief Phil Kerns said the plane went off the grassy runway, traveling an additional 150 feet before coming to a stop in a four-foot ditch near Block Road.

The two people onboard were middle-age men from western Saginaw County, Kerns said.

A minor extrication by police, fire, and MMR Ambulance was needed to remove both men from the aircraft.

They were transported by MMR Ambulance to a local hospital and were expected to be OK, officials said.

The incident remains under investigation.

Officials have asked residents to avoid the area of South Block and Curtis roads until the Federal Aviation Administration and Frankenmuth Police Department complete their investigation.


  1. Photos make it appear that the speed brake on Port wing is raised, but the Starboard brake is not.

    Propeller has three selectable pitch settings (power/cruise/feather). A 2018 crash on takeoff with cruise pitch selected and speed brakes extended happened after landing and not using checklist.

  2. what is with these powered gliders they get into trouble way more then regular gliders . do they think they can do anything because of the engine or what.

    1. Maybe having the motor available erodes precision in planning and executing the flights because you can motor out of your mistakes. Or maybe those who don't have solid checklist discipline get in trouble like float planes do with gear forgotten.

      Or maybe the engine quit on takeoff - no info on whether the motor quit in the N3344BA crash.

      Having power for self launching and in-flight sustaining seems like a handy capability if everything goes according to plan.