Saturday, August 22, 2020

Low Altitude Operation/Event: Rans S-12 Airaile, unregistered (previously N4114G); accident occurred April 05, 2020 in Hillrose, Morgan County, Colorado


Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Denver, Colorado

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Hillrose, Colorado 
Accident Number: CEN20CA139
Date & Time: April 4, 2020, 10:44 Local 
Registration: UNREG
Aircraft: RANS S-12 Airaile 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Low altitude operation/event
Injuries: 2 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal


The noncertificated pilot reported that, during a local flight, he noticed an area of smoke and fire near his property. The pilot descended the airplane to about 20 ft above ground level to see what was burning, which diverted his attention from flying. The pilot "immediately" pulled up to avoid power lines, but the airplane struck the lines. The airplane then impacted the ground and came to rest inverted, which resulted in substantial damage to the wings and empennage. The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures of 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 diverted attention while looking at a fire during low-altitude flying, which resulted in a collision with power lines.


Personnel issues Qualification/certification - Pilot
Personnel issues Attention - Pilot
Personnel issues Monitoring environment - Pilot
Environmental issues Wire - Effect on operation
Aircraft (general) - Not specified

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying Miscellaneous/other
Maneuvering-low-alt flying Low altitude operation/event (Defining event)
Maneuvering-low-alt flying Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)
Post-impact Roll over

Pilot Information

Certificate: None
Age: 58, Male
Airplane Rating(s):None
Seat Occupied:
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: 680 hours (Total, all aircraft), 135 hours (Total, this make and model), 680 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 12 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: RANS S-12
Registration: UNREG
Model/Series: Airaile
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1990
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 1290044
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Date/Type of Last Inspection: Unknown
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 975 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 505.4 Hours
Engine Manufacturer: Rotax
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: 582
Registered Owner: Pilot
Rated Power:65 hp
Operator: Pilot
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: FMM, 4595 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 60 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1055 MDT
Direction from Accident Site: 90°
Lowest Cloud Condition:Clear
Visibility: 10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: Calm /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.81 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 13°C / -2°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Hillrose, CO
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Hillrose, CO
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: MST
Type of Airspace: Class G

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: 40.320556, -103.523889 (est)

On Sunday an ultralight aircraft crashed after hitting a power line off of Morgan County Road W, south of the town of Hillrose.

Morgan County Sheriff’s Office and the Hillrose Fire Department personnel responded to the incident around 10:40 a.m. Two people were in the plane when it crashed.

“Both the pilot and the passenger were flown to metro area hospitals for medical treatment. The minor passenger was flown from the scene and the pilot was flown from Colorado Plains Medical Center,” a press release from the Sheriff’s Department said.

Witnesses of the crash pulled the pilot and passenger out of the plane after noticing that fuel was leaking. Both had been wearing their seatbelts at the time of the crash.

Two power lines were toppled during the plane’s descent, and the crash is being investigated by the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department, The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.

“Local area witnesses reported that the ultra-light aircraft appeared to have hit the power lines causing the crash,” the press release said.

Despite eyewitness accounts, the cause of the crash has not been conclusively determined at this time, and the investigation will seek other potential causes before drawing a conclusion.


  1. It says he has 680 hours total with no license. Besides the 135 hours in this motorized kite with wheels, what other aircraft did this genius have time in without a certification?

    1. I am guessing it doesn't really matter..... The FAA and others will sort it out