Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Flight Design CTLS, N121YT: Accident occurred October 10, 2021 near Greenville Downtown Airport (KGMU), Greenville County, South Carolina

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; Columbia, South Carolina

Location: Greenville, South Carolina
Accident Number: ERA22LA011
Date and Time: October 10, 2021, 12:10 Local 
Registration: N121YT
Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On October 10, 2021, about 1210 eastern daylight time, a Flight Design GMBH CTLS, N121YT, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near, Greenville, South Carolina. The pilot received minor injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

According to the pilot, an annual inspection was conducted at Twin Lakes Airport (S17), Graniteville, South Carolina and the accident flight was his first flight in the airplane after the inspection. He conducted a preflight inspection of the airplane with no anomalies noted and departed for Henderson, North Carolina. About 18 miles south of his destination, the engine oil pressure dropped to zero. The pilot turned towards Greenville Downtown Airport (GMU), Greenville, South Carolina, and declared an emergency. The engine continued to run for about 4 or 5 minutes before it seized. The pilot reported to GMU that he would not be able to reach the airport and turned towards an open clearing before deploying the airplane’s ballistic parachute about 500 ft above ground level (agl). Shortly after deploying the parachute, the airplane floated into pine trees and was suspended about 50 ft agl about 9 miles north of GMU. The pilot climbed out of the side window and was rescued by local authorities.

Postaccident examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed two engine oil hoses disconnected and substantial damage to the fuselage and left wing.

The airplane was recovered for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N121YT
Model/Series: CTLS 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
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: GMU,1048 ft msl 
Observation Time: 12:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 25°C /16°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 20°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.05 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Graniteville, SC (S17)
Destination: Henderson, NC (0A7)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor 
Latitude, Longitude: 34.886696,-82.359983 (est)

GREENVILLE, South Carolina  —  A plane has crashed in Greenville County Sunday afternoon near a populated area, according to dispatchers.

Dispatchers said the first calls came in just after noon about a plane going down behind a home on Highview Drive. That's across from Wade Hampton High School in the area of Woodlawn Cemetery, off Wade Hampton Boulevard.

Dispatchers said crews from the Wade Hampton Fire Department were at the scene.

Emails to the newsroom said both county and city law enforcement were also at the scene.

"The officer up at the intersection said a plane had crashed and then he pointed to it and that's when we first saw the plane up in the tree," said Michael Rubner, a nearby neighbor.

A WYFF News 4 crew at the scene talked to the pilot, William Kepper, who said he was flying from Aiken when the plane had an engine failure and the parachute saved his life.

He said he called the Downtown Greenville Airport and declared an emergency, and was cleared to land there, but he knew he wouldn't make it.

He was forced to deploy the craft's parachute to slow it down before impact.

He guided the plane into some trees behind a house and was able to climb out of the wreckage with just some scratches.

He said he does not need hospital treatment.

It was a surprise to neighbors.

"What I asked him was if he was actually trying to hit the tree and the gentleman said, 'No, as soon as you open the parachute, you just don't know where you're gonna land,' but just for the grace of God he actually landed on that tree. That's unbelievable," said Melcom Sanchez, another neighbor.


  1. Located 3 miles south of last ADS ping prior to 180 degree redirection @ 35.0312 -82.3439 was 'Private use' 25SC Mountain Ridge Airport (1950 feet) Greenville, South Carolina, USA @ 34.9606389,-82.3373889. Was that an option ?

  2. Reminds me of my first RC aircraft experience, just scaled up and without a parachute! After the recent fatalities over the past week here on KR, this is good news for a change...the pilot walks away!

  3. It’s not on the sectional. If controller had pointed it out I may have gone for it.

  4. But it IS on the sectional! 25SC, marked as private. Another option VERY close to the turnaround was 66SC - The Flying Few airstrip, another private airstrip.

  5. The pine trees that plane "landed" are about 100' from my house. All of us that live in that neighborhood are very grateful that A: the pilot was mostly unarmed, and B: that his plane had the emergency parachute system, and therefore no one on the ground was harmed. All in all, it made for a pretty interesting Sunday afternoon.

  6. What mechanic doesnt run up an engine after maintenance and check for leaks?