Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Zenith CH 750 Cruzer, N161AR: Accident occurred September 14, 2021 at Massey Ranch Airpark (X50), New Smyrna Beach, Florida

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 did not travel to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida

Location: New Smyrna, FL 
Accident Number: ERA21LA360
Date & Time: September 14, 2021, 12:00 Local
Registration: N161AR
Aircraft: Zenith 750 Cruzer
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On September 14, 2021, about 1200 eastern daylight time, an experimental, amateur-built Zenith 750 Cruzer, N161AR, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident at Massey Ranch Airpark (X50), New Smyrna Beach, Florida. The pilot and pilot-rated passenger were not injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91personal flight.

According to the pilot, he purchased the airplane on the day of the accident and intended to fly it back to Greenville, Tennessee. He conducted a short post-purchase inspection on the airplane and noted that there were no brakes or throttle control for the pilot-rated passenger in the right seat. Shortly after departing X50, he “heard a very loud boom” and the airplane “jolted nose down and to the left.” The controls were locked, and the pilot could not move the control column. The pilot applied force to the controls and they subsequently moved and felt freed from binding. He then decided to return to X50, and during a left turn onto the final approach leg of the traffic pattern, the controls intermittently locked two more times and the pilot performed a go-around.

During the next approach, when the pilot turned left onto base leg of the traffic pattern, he heard another boom, and the controls locked again. The airplane was descending rapidly, and the pilot performed another go-around. The pilot was able to fly the airplane back to the final approach leg of the traffic pattern without the controls locking; however, when the airplane was about 10 ft above the runway, the controls locked again. The airplane pitched nose down and to the left, the left wing contacted the ground, followed by the nose landing gear, which collapsed. The airplane then departed the left side of the runway, struck an embankment, and came to rest inverted in a pond.

Examination of the airplane revealed substantial damage to the engine mounts, firewall, and wings.

The airplane was retained for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Zenith 
Registration: N161AR
Model/Series: 750 Cruzer
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: Yes
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: KEVB,10 ft msl 
Observation Time: 12:47 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C /25°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 2000 ft AGL
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots / , 60°
Lowest Ceiling: 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.04 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: New Smyrna, FL
Destination: Greenvillle, TN (4TN5)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 28.978736,-80.924546 (est)

EDGEWATER, Florida  — Crews from Edgewater Fire Rescue and neighboring agencies were dispatched to a reported plane crash Tuesday morning at 9:40 a.m., according to officials with the City of Edgewater.

There were reports of a small experimental aircraft upside down in a pond, investigators said.

Upon arrival, crews found two people had escaped, without injuries, from a plane that had slid off the runway at Massey Ranch Airpark and into a water-filled ditch.

Crews were still on the scene Tuesday morning to mitigate any hazards, and the cause of the incident will be under investigation by aviation authorities, officials said.


  1. The pilot owner (who just bought the plane) has made a series of videos.
    He is making claims of who to blame, another party. The other party made reply video.

  2. Pilot poke immediately after crash, said he returned due to iPad navigation display disagreeing with magnetic compass …. No mention of controls locking up.

    He also claimed in his videos that the P-factor was so bad on takeoff that the plane jerked hard to the left and he had to make large corrections to recover…

    He was apparently unaware the his statements to those gathered after the crash were recorded… and that video of his takeoff completely impeached his claims of the plane/P-factor issues on takeoff.

    Glad he’s okay… but the claims he made hours/days later are hard to believe when his spontaneous statements after having just crashed his plane didn’t include the huge claim that the controls locked up.

    1. The fact that he chose to post his complaints online tells me he has no case against Viking, or he would instead an attorney would be speaking for him.

  3. I think this pilot was just humiliated and came up with a story that made him feel better about himself...and a story that made him a hero when he tells the story to friends and family about how it landed a broken plane - and saved the lives of himself and his pilot "friend". It can be hard to look in the mirror and admit that one messed up...Oh the tangled web we weave....

  4. I listened to his video which made no sense because it sounded like he went on to another airport, but the video Viking aircraft put on their channel contradicts the things the PIC says. The friend said they turned back because their iPad was not working correctly. His friend said when they tried to land the PIC was having lot of problems landing. He even said they stalled it and his friend said he should have landed it.

  5. A lot of criticism of the pilot here yet the NTSB final report pretty much supports his narrative. Serious problems with the flight control system and a poor or non-existent condition inspection.