Sunday, August 09, 2020

Loss of Lift: Van's RV-6, N327WB; accident occurred July 25, 2020 in Imperial, Chase County, Nebraska

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Lincoln, Nebraska

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Imperial, NE

Accident Number: CEN20CA307
Date & Time: 07/25/2020, 1249 MDT
Registration: N327WB
Aircraft: Vans VANS RV 6
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of lift
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal


The pilot stated that this was his third passenger carrying flight of the day and he determined his takeoff weight was about 146 lbs below max gross weight. For the takeoff from the grass strip, he elected not to utilize flaps or the full length of the runway, leaving about 100-200 ft behind him. During the takeoff roll, the pilot had the sense that the roll was taking longer than normal, and he began to be concerned about powerlines at the end of the runway. When about 10-25 ft above the ground, he began a shallow bank turn to the right. Immediately after starting the turn, he flew over a corn field and experienced a loss of lift. The airplane then impacted the corn, resulting in substantial damage to the right wing and fuselage. The pilot reported no mechanical anomalies with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The pilot noted that he listened to the density altitude reported on the Automated Weather Observing System for a nearby airport but did not process the effects it would have on the accident flight. The density altitude was about 6,184 ft.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's inadequate preflight performance planning and his decision not to utilize all available runway during high density altitude operations which led to an inflight loss of control and subsequent collision with terrain.


Personnel issues Performance calculations - Pilot
Personnel issues Decision making/judgment - Pilot
Aircraft Climb capability - Not specified

Factual Information

History of Flight

Initial climb Loss of lift (Defining event)
Initial climb Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private

Age: 66, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 08/20/2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 12/22/2019
Flight Time: 247 hours (Total, all aircraft), 58 hours (Total, this make and model), 247 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 8 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Vans

Registration: N327WB
Model/Series: VANS RV 6 Undesignated
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1996
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 24169
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 01/07/2020, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1600 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 20 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 754 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer:Lycoming
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-320-H2AD
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power:160 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: KIML, 3273 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 6 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1053 MDT
Direction from Accident Site: 359°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility: 10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: Calm /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.98 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 30°C / 19°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Imperial, NE (PVT)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Imperial, NE (IML)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1145 MDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information


Runway Surface Type: Grass/turf
Airport Elevation: 3460 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach:None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor

Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 40.406944, -101.617500

Plane crashes in both Chase and Perkins County, happening about the same time Saturday morning, called emergency personnel to the two scenes.

In Chase County, a private plane went down in a cornfield near the intersection of 333 Avenue and 730 Road.

In Perkins County, the pilot of a crop plane died after his aircraft went down in a cornfield seven miles south and a half mile east of Grant, or about three miles north of the Chase/Perkins county line.

A release issued by Chase County Sheriff Kevin Mueller’s office said an emergency 911 call regarding a possible airplane crash in rural Chase County was received about 11:49 a.m. Saturday.

The 333/730 location is a few miles southwest of Enders Lake.

The Van's RV-6 aircraft, with two male passengers, had reportedly gone down in cornfield shortly after takeoff.

It landed not far from the grass airstrip on the property.

Brothers Steve and Tim Leibbrandt were in the plane, according to reports from the scene. Both were transported to Chase County Community Hospital.

Steve Leibbrandt, the pilot, was treated for minor injuries and released later Saturday from Chase County Hospital.

Passenger Tim Leibbrandt sustained more serious, non-life threatening injuries. He was eventually transported to another medical facility in Colorado.

Efforts for an update on Tim Leibbrandt’s recovery were unsuccessful.

The Chase County Sheriff’s Office, Imperial EMS and Imperial Volunteer Fire Department were called to the scene.

Fire Chief Doug Mitchell said the IVFD took three units to the scene, where they were charged with making sure the scene was safe. There was no fire, Mitchell said.

Sheriff Mueller said the cause of the accident remains undetermined.

Mueller said the investigation has been turned over to investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB).

Perkins County crash

A 31-year-old Tennessee man perished Saturday when the aerial spray plane he was piloting went down in a cornfield south of Grant.

Perkins County Sheriff Jim Brueggeman identified the victim as Alex Tuttle of College Grove, Tennessee.

Brueggeman said Tuttle was a contract pilot flying for Aurora Cooperative when the accident occurred. The plane was owned by Aurora Co-op.

The call came in at 12:05 p.m. His office, along with the Grant and Madrid fire departments, were dispatched to scene.

Brueggeman said another pilot spraying nearby lost sight of the plane and efforts to contact Tuttle were unsuccessful.

After finishing the load, the pilot flew over the field and spotted the downed plane.

Brueggeman said they believe the plane went down somewhere between 11:40 and 11:50 a.m.

Perkins County Coroner Rick Roberts pronounced Tuttle dead at the scene. An autopsy was ordered since it was an unattended death.

Investigators with the NTSB and FAA were on the scene Sunday, according to the sheriff.

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