Sunday, May 02, 2021

Loss of Lift: Mosquito XE, N725JC; accident occurred May 02, 2018 in Iron Station, Lincoln County, North Carolina

Timothy Kniess, left, was able to crawl away after his experimental amateur-built helicopter crashed on the front yard of his home.

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Charlotte, North Carolina

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Iron Station, NC
Accident Number: GAA18CA250
Date & Time: 05/02/2018, 1000 EDT
Registration: N725JC
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of lift
Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 


The noncertificated pilot reported that, while practicing hovering the helicopter in his yard, the experimental amateur-built helicopter struck a tree with the tail rotor. He added that, the next thing he knew the helicopter developed "a huge vibration suddenly and [he] had no heading control". Subsequently, the helicopter impacted the ground.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation. The helicopter was destroyed by a post-crash fire.

The pilot reported in the NTSB Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report form (6120.1) that he should have taken more dual instruction, and he should have chosen a more open area for hover practice. 

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 practice hovering the helicopter in a confined space, which resulted in the tail rotor striking a tree.


Aircraft Heading/course - Not attained/maintained
Personnel issues Aircraft control - Pilot
Environmental issues Tree(s) - Contributed to outcome
Aircraft Prop/rotor parameters - Not attained/maintained

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering-hover Loss of lift (Defining event)
Maneuvering-hover Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT)

Pilot Information

Certificate: None
Age: 56, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Single
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: None
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Sport Pilot None
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: (Estimated)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N725JC
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: MXE 1123110B
Landing Gear Type: Skid
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 04/03/2018, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 612 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 350 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Intec
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: 800
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 95 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: KIPJ, 875 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1355 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 322°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 8 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 230°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.32 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 20°C / 9°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Iron Station, NC
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Iron Station, NC
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1000 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries:1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 35.440000, -81.120000 (est)

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