Friday, June 25, 2021

Grumman American AA-1B, N9261L: Fatal accident occurred June 24, 2021 in Cleburne, Johnson County, Texas

Nick Duran, left, and Felipe Lopez 

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 traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Arlington, Texas
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania 

Location: Cleburne, TX
Accident Number: CEN21FA290
Date & Time: June 24, 2021, 17:14 Local
Registration: N9261L
Aircraft: American Aviation AA-1A
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On June 24, 2021 at 1714 central daylight time, an American Aviation AA-1A airplane, N9261L, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Cleburne, Texas. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

Preliminary radar and ADS-B data showed that the airplane departed Cleburne Regional Airport (CPT), about 1658 and proceeded south, then northeast toward Keene, Texas. After the airplane made one full circle over Keene, it proceeded west and overflew CPT. The airplane continued west about 2,600 ft mean sea level (msl) for another 3 miles. During the last 10 seconds of the recorded data, the flight track showed a hard right turn followed by a left descending spiral toward the ground.

A witness who was located about 1/2 mile south of the accident site, stated that he observed the airplane “going straight down,” but he did not see it impact the ground.

The airplane was located in a field next to a gravel road as seen in Figure 1. 

All major components of the airplane were found at the accident site with the main wreckage.

The engine remained partially attached to the airframe and sustained significant impact damage. The propeller remined attached to the crankshaft flange via two bolts. The propeller blades exhibited damage and scoring on the blade faces. One blade was bent aft about mid span with no leading edge damage. The other blade was mostly straight and exhibited leading edge gouges and chordwise scratches near the tip. The sliding canopy frame was found separated from the fuselage and the plexiglass was fractured and scattered around the area.

An engine data monitor was retained for data extraction and analysis.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: American Aviation 
Registration: N9261L
Model/Series: AA-1A
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
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: KCPT,854 ft msl
Observation Time: 17:35 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 35°C /21°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 16 knots / , 170°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.9 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Cleburne, TX (CPT)
Destination: Cleburne, TX

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 32.352429,-97.493799 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

The two men killed in Thursday’s plane crash have been identified as Cleburne High School graduates.

Nick Duran, 20, and Felipe Lopez, 20, were the pilot and passenger in the plane.

Bono firefighters responded at 9:29 p.m. to reports of a plane down, Bono Fire Chief Ralph Vaquera said.

Vaquera said the plane — an American Aviation AA-1A owned by Duran — apparently went down earlier in the day but was not reported for several hours.

Bono firefighters traveled county roads 1123 and 1124 looking for the plane. A Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper who was also helping in the search found the crashed plane near a private oil field road. The plane crashed about a mile from County Road 1123, Vaquera said.

Vaquera added that the plane sustained heavy damage but did not catch fire.

Duran was a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy. He obtained his pilot’s license in 2020.

“The impact of losing Nick has been felt throughout our Academy,” USAFA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Clark said. “He was our brother — a friend, teammate, and classmate — and will always be a part of USAFA. I am so proud of how our cadets have leaned on each other and honored Nick’s life.

“While words cannot lessen the loss felt by his family, we want to send our heartfelt condolences to Nick’s family and friends — you are in our thoughts and prayers.”

Duran played baseball for Cleburne High School from 2015-18. He was the 2018 All-Johnson County defensive player of the year and the 2018 District 9-5A defensive player of the year.

Lopez played soccer and participated in cross country and track for Cleburne High School from 2015-18. He was a two-time all-district and All-Johnson County selection in soccer and also a key part of the Yellow Jackets’ cross country program.

As a senior in 2018, Lopez served as a team captain for Yellow Jacket soccer, earning first-team all-district honors and first-team All-Johnson County recognition that season. Lopez helped Cleburne cross country win the 2017 district championship as he finished 14th overall at the district meet.

“Our teachers, coaches and administrators who had the opportunity to know Nick Duran and Felipe Lopez are deeply saddened by the loss of these two remarkable young men and Cleburne High School graduates of 2018,” Cleburne ISD Director of Community Relations Lisa Magers said. “Both competed for the Jackets as student athletes. 

“It was wonderful to see Nick achieve his dream of continuing his baseball career at the college level — and not just any college — the US Air Force Academy. Nick was also an academic leader among his classmates, graduating in the Top Ten. 

“We were so proud to see Felipe experience the international spotlight for his vocal talents, which were truly amazing. Whether in the classroom, on the cross country course or the soccer field, on the job — or on the stage — his work ethic and dedication to giving his best were always present. 

“Those of us who knew Nick, Felipe — or both — remember students who were bright, polite and respectful, friendly and very generous with their smiles. Our thoughts and prayers for their families will continue.”

GoFundMe pages have been set up for both of the men. Duran’s, which was created by Alyssa Naused on behalf of Cadet Squadron 29, had raised almost $10,000 as of Wednesday afternoon.

“Nick was passionate in all aspects of his life,” Naused said. “He worked ceaselessly towards earning his private pilot’s license and aspired above all to be an Air Force pilot upon graduation from USAFA. As dedicated as Nick was to his dreams, he was more passionate towards his commitment to those around him, especially his family.”

Naused said that Duran was described to be “the most positive cadet I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.”

“Nick was a brother, exuding constant joy and bearing an infectious smile, eager to share his love with everyone around him,” she said. “He cared for those around him in action and word, regardless of whether he knew them. He was a catcher for the Air Force Baseball Team where he impacted not just his friends, but every individual with whom he interacted. 

“To describe Nick as inspiring would be an understatement; Nick was one of the best. It was easy to see how much the underclassmen of CS-29 looked up to and respected Nick. He consistently checked in with cadets who were struggling and used what he learned during his time as a cadet to help others be their best.”

Funds raised will be used to create a gift for Duran’s family, create a memorial case to be built at the squadron and go towards the CS-29 support fund.

Lopez was a talented singer who recently appeared on the Spanish musical competition “Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento.”

He began singing as a teenager, inspired by his dad, who also loved to sing and bought him a karaoke machine. He was multi-faceted, able to sing everything from opera and R&B to reggaeton and mariachi.

He won second and third place at La Gran Plaza’s annual singing contest.

Lopez’ GoFundMe was created by Edalia Aguilar to help with funeral expenses.

“Felipe, lovingly known as Pancho, graduated from Cleburne High School in 2018,” Aguilar said. “Felipe was as talented as he was kind. He played soccer and ran cross country for CHS, and was pursuing his lifelong dream of a career in music. 

“In 2020, Felipe competed in several episodes of ‘Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento,’ a popular Spanish singing competition TV show. 

“Felipe is deeply loved and missed by his family, his friends and everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him.”

Lopez’ cross country coach, Alicia Johnson, said he was an amazing human being with a beautiful soul.

“Felipe was on the varsity cross country team, and qualified for regionals individually and helped lead his team to qualifying for regionals as a team,” she said. “He was naturally gifted in all he did and was an exceptionally gifted runner.

To donate, visit Duran’s page at or Lopez’ page at

CLEBURNE, Texas -- An U.S. Air Force Academy cadet was one of two people killed in the crash of a small plane south of Fort Worth, Texas, this week, a military official said.

Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, said on Twitter that Nick Duran, a junior, died in the crash Thursday while home in Texas on leave.

“He was our brother — a friend, teammate, and classmate — and will always be a part of USAFA,” Clark said. “I am so proud of how our cadets have leaned on each other and honored Nick’s life.”

The Tarrant County medical examiner's office said Duran, who was 20, died of blunt force injuries.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the wreckage of the Grumman American AA-1B with two people aboard was found Thursday near Cleburne after it had been declared missing.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said two people were confirmed dead. DPS said the plane was located just west of Cleburne Regional Airport.

Cleburne is located about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Fort Worth.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the accident.

Air Force cadet Nick Duran died in the crash of a Grumman American AA-1B south of Fort Worth, Texas, on June 24, 2021.


  1. FlightRadar24 has nothing on this flight. FlightAware shows the pilot arriving (almost, it shows "arrival" at 12:14AM CDT then the last line, at the same time, shows 3,400') a little after midnight on the 24th. After that, nothing. The time listed here, converted to CDT, is 18:56 CDT). Maintenance check flight? 2 people. Didn't find the crash site until 10:30 pm.

    This article:

    looks like there was rotation on impact :(

    1. rotation in that airplane is not good, fuel moves to the end of the wings I believe

  2. Wreckage photo links:

  3. Looks like an off-airport landing effort:

    1. Zooming in at pinned crash location in map link below matches adsbexchange track endpoint, with the three posts and tall pole adjacent as seen in the video & photos:

  4. Looks like he turned parallel to a road on his flight track. Maintenance or fuel issue? Trying to make a road to land?

    1. Open fields all around the road...I'd put my plane in the field.

  5. Hey everyone. Yes there was a flight that originated at DTO at approx 23:35 on the 23rd and arrived at Cleburne (CPT) at approx 00:14 on the 24th. this was not the accident flight. There was a flight later in the afternoon on the 24th at approx 17:14 that does not show on flightaware, but shows on ADS-B Here:

    (ASIAS) puts the crash at approx 18:56 Here:,P96_FATAL_FLG:25-JUN-21,YES

    The times I used are all converted to (CDT) for consistency.

    1. That Adsbexchange track was also posted on Friday, at:

      "Looks like an off-airport landing effort:"

      The matching pinned map location was posted in a reply.

  6. The definition of a photo that is worth a thousand words...

  7. To my flying brothers and sisters - please get the nose down if you lose the engine. If you stall, you die - 100%. If you crash-land without stalling, your chances of survival are much higher. Sad to see this young man dead when he had so much going for him. :( Perhaps we need to do a better job of training this simple but hard to implement concept - stick/yoke full forward on engine failure at takeoff.

    1. I flew back seat with my son when he was getting his private license. I did not think there was enough emphasis on emergency procedures. I hired and fired several (7) IPs for instruction quality until I found one who took the time to do extra EP and landing work. He is also academy grad now f15e and he and his counterparts with licenses all told me when they were USAF UPT that private flight training did not give them the skills they should have had. Most definitely 100 hours is not enough...


    Fixed wing single engine

    Certificate Issue Date
    Airworthiness Date
    Last Action Date

  9. A 2016 for sale ad shows shoulder restraints (4th & 5th photo). The ad under Engine Notes described engine as low run time, 30 year span:

    "215 Hours Total Time – Engine
    (11/1/86) ~ Upgraded Engine to
    Lycoming 320 -150 HP"

    1. He just hit 100 hours in March. Go to @realnickduran instagram to watch him fly.
      AA1A known for being hot for inexperienced, abrupt stalls and wing drop/roll. Sad

    2. Video link:

  10. Recorded winds suggest that he had to deal with a significant gusting crosswind from his left side as he attempted the apparent emergency landing on approximately 270° heading (Per 2214Z data points in the AdsbExchange track and using AWOS archive data below.)

    KCPT 242135Z AUTO 16010G19KT 10SM FEW050 35/22 A2992
    KCPT 242155Z AUTO 17011G17KT 140V210 10SM FEW050 34/22 A2991
    KCPT 242215Z AUTO 10SM CLR RMK A01 PNO TSNO (See * below)
    KCPT 242235Z AUTO 17016KT 10SM CLR 35/21 A2990
    KCPT 242255Z AUTO 16012G20KT 10SM CLR 34/21 A2989

    * AWOS recording at 2215Z did not include a wind reading as retrieved from database. Presumably the winds recorded before and after 2215Z are representative for the period.


  11. Many years ago my old man bought a TR-2 to use to teach me to fly. I thought it was a pig--spoiled, I suppose, because his other plane was a Cheetah, which I liked. We only flew in it a few times, as he took it up to stall test it one day, landed it and immediately put it up for sale.

  12. The satellite view shows power poles along side the road. Looks more likely they hit the power line. That would be consistent with the location and damage to the aircraft.

    1. The power line was not struck.

      CBS video linked below shows the power wires still in place and tight, easy to see at about the 25 second mark, with the aircraft in the same view.

      The oil patch poly pipe on the ground is not a downed power line of course, and that pipe is easily seen in the pinned location google map satellite image view at full zoom.

  13. Prelim report's hard right turn followed by a left descending spiral from 2600' MSL doesn't provide speeds before turn entry. Can't tell if he just over banked as the turn became a tailwind or was turning back for a developing power delivery problem.

  14. Classic stall spin accident. Very unforgiving in the two seat Grumman American series. Not the first. Unfortunately won’t be the last. As modified with the bigger engine this one had, these planes are best flow by experienced pilots.

    1. Not a classic stall spin; when you see the NTSB report you will have a better understanding.

    2. Recovery of data from the engine data monitor will help determine whether there was degrading engine performance before the hard turn and spiral dive.

      If the few data points in the Adsbexchange track correctly report heading and ground speed, his airspeed would equal ground speed for that crosswind he was in before the right turn. 59 knots is suspiciously slow, could be faltering power followed by overbanked right turn with tailwind that contributed to accelerated stall/spin.

  15. apparently no AF Academy restrictions on cadets flying privatedly-own acft.

    1. Does any University restrict their students from exercising their rights as private pilots especially on their own time?

  16. Actually yes, universities have that concept for sports.
    If they are involved in sports of any physical type, they are under contract to NOT Participate in any extracurricular activities of that sport to prevent injuries!! Until after season!!!
    So yes, some Universities have those closures to prevent student-athletes from being injured!!!