Friday, October 22, 2021

Pipistrel Apis-Bee, N812DS: Accident occurred October 21, 2021 at Jim Hamilton L. B. Owens Airport (KCUB), Columbia, Richland 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

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Location: Columbia, SC
Accident Number: ERA22LA025
Date and Time: October 21, 2021, 10:38 Local
Registration: N812DS
Aircraft: Pipistrel Apis-Bee 
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Pipistrel
Registration: N812DS
Model/Series: Apis-Bee
Aircraft Category: Glider
Amateur Built:
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: 
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation: 
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point:
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: 
Altimeter Setting: 
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point: 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 33.973189,-80.999662 (est)

Columbia emergency personnel responded to a motor glider crash at the Jim Hamilton-L.B. Owens Airport Thursday midday.

Police said the male pilot was taken to a hospital. He was not entrapped in the plane when it crashed, Columbia Fire Department spokesman Mike DeSumma said. 

DeSumma said he couldn’t comment on the pilot’s condition other than he was injured. Investigators have not identified the pilot and his condition wasn’t available as of press time.

He was the only person onboard, DeSumma said. The crash happened at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

The fire department and other emergency responders “did all we could to get him out ... and to the hospital,” DeSumma said.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating. The administration’s investigators will determine a cause of the crash.

A man in his 60s was taking off in the motor glider, which was new to him, when he crashed, said Trevor Drayton, a former flight instructor who had been called to the scene.

Emergency personnel have cleared the scene and the glider was sitting on the edge of the runway early Thursday afternoon.

Air traffic controllers initially weren’t aware of the crash until an airplane taxiing saw it and told controllers the glider was in the woods.

A motor glider is a plane that carries little fuel and essentially glides when it’s in the air. The glider was intact as it sat on the edge of the runway.

Resident Lethetta Ball lives at an apartment complex next to Owens Field, and said she came home just in time to see the crash.

“It was scary,” Ball said. “My heart is pounding. ... My daughters are at home, good thing it didn’t crash into our apartment complex.”

DeSumma addressed the fact that apartments are nearby, saying its horrible that a crash happened but emergency responders were relieved it was confined to the runway. 

At 12:53 p.m., the fire department said the scene had been turned over to the Federal Aviation Administration for investigation. 

Richland County Councilwoman Allison Terracio is a council liaison to the airport. She said there was “no fire or explosion” connected to the crash. The fire department confirmed that the plane did not catch on fire and little fuel spilled.

“Of course we never want anything bad to happen, but things like this do happen,” Terracio said. “I know though that (county) staff and our emergency responders are taking care of it.”

The Hamilton-Owens Airport borders the southwest side of the Rosewood neighborhood in Columbia. Nearby amenities include the Owens Field park and skate park, City Roots farm and the Hunter-Gatherer Hangar brewery, plus a plethora of residential homes. 

This is at least the second time this year there has been a plane crash in the area of the Jim Hamilton - L.B. Owens Airport. In January, a pilot was flying in to the airport on a foggy morning when he missed his approach and crashed into a home in the Rosewood neighborhood, and the plane ultimately burst into flames in a backyard. Greenville pilot Farhad Rostampour died in that January crash. He was 62.

COLUMBIA, South Carolina – Authorities are investigation after a motor glider crashed on the runway at Owens Field Airport Thursday. Around 11:30 a.m., first responders received the emergency call and arrived on scene. 

The pilot was the only one involved in the crash, and he has since been transported to the hospital. We do not have word on his condition at this time. 

While the incident occurred at the airport, it certainly scared the neighbors at the nearby apartment complex.

“We’re right next to the airport so we hear them come in all the time. Jets and everything you can hear real loud all the time,” said Rosewood resident Lettheta Ball.

Thursday morning, those at the Plowden Apartments were on the other side of the fence of a plane crash.

Ball says “The first thing I thought about was the apartment complex that we stay at and everybody that lives there. That is close.”

Public Information Officer for the Columbia Fire Department. Mike DeSumma says “Essentially these motor gliders only carry so much fuel. Once you get up in the air, you’re gliding essentially. Our understanding is the glider was coming in for landing when it crashed.”

Lettheta Ball says “I hope the gentleman in the glider is okay.”

The pilot was removed from the glider and taken from the hospital, but his condition is unknown. DeSumma says the incident could have been much worse.

“When you’re dealing with an aircraft coming down, you have to worry about if there’s fire involved. We were prepared to dispatch units to handle any fire. With this crash, there was no fire involved thankfully. You also have to worry about if there’s any kind of fuel spills. With this aircraft being a small one, there was no major issues with spillage. Our main priority was getting here, getting the pilot out of the airport and transported safely to the hospital,” said DeSumma.

Earlier this year, a small plane crashed into a residence in the Rosewood neighborhood, half a mile from the airport. That pilot died. It certainly worries those living nearby. 

For Ball, this is something she’s dealt with before “This is the second time I’ve seen or heard of a crash in this area. That’s kind of crazy. To me, it’s scary.”

The FAA will take over the investigation to determine the cause of the crash and we will keep you updated on the pilot’s condition as we learn more. 


  1. "PIPISTREL APIS BEE Certificate Issue Date: 09/03/2021" @ registryfaagov

  2. I wonder if the glider is serial number 052 AB F32.

  3. I was able to review two stills from the short cell phone video clip of the accident made by the sole witness to the accident. Not the greatest resolution as the accident occurred about a half mile from the witness,

    The aircraft appeared to roll rapidly to the left about 270 degrees as it pitched down. The nose and right wingtip made contact at about the same time.

    Fortunately the witness was a retired medical professional.

    Wishing the best possible recovery for the pilot.