Monday, December 20, 2021

Lake LA-4-250 Renegade, N1402C: Fatal accident occurred December 17, 2021 - Lake Arietta (1FL0), Auburndale, Polk County, 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

Amphibian Flyers LLC

Location: Auburndale, Florida
Accident Number: ERA22LA090
Date and Time: December 17, 2021, 12:24 Local 
Registration: N1402C
Aircraft: AEROFAB INC LAKE LA-4-250
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On December 17, 2021, at 1224 eastern standard time, a Lake LA-250 amphibious airplane, N1402C, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident in Auburndale, Florida. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight.

According to Federal Aviation Administration preliminary tracking data, the airplane departed from Lake Hartridge, Winter Haven, Florida, about 1130. The airplane departed to the south, then turned north and flew about 25 miles before heading southwest toward Lake Arietta. The airplane flew over the center of Lake Arietta on a southbound heading, at an altitude of 500-600 ft above mean sea level, at a groundspeed of 92-96 knots. The last track data showed the airplane at an altitude of 200 ft msl and a groundspeed of 105 knots near the southern end of the lake, about 0.1 mile northeast of the accident site.

A witness, located on the southwest shore of the lake, about 0.1 mile abeam the accident site, reported that the airplane was flying toward his location, at a “fairly low altitude” as the engine was “making a sputtering noise.” He added that he did not see any smoke or flames or other signs of distress. As the airplane continued toward his location, it descended at a steep angle and impacted the lake in a nose down attitude. After impact, the airplane “came apart and there was an immediate, explosive ball of flames and smoke.”

Another witness saw the airplane flying low over the lake and reported that the engine sounded as if it was “struggling to develop full power.” He then saw the airplane in a climbing right turn and banking before he lost sight of it below a tree line.

During recovery of the wreckage, bird feathers, subsequently identified as those from a turkey vulture, were found wrapped around the fuel filler cap on the inside of the damaged and breached right wing fuel tank. The carcass of a turkey vulture was found floating on the surface of the lake, in the vicinity of the wreckage debris field.

The wreckage was retained for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: AEROFAB INC
Registration: N1402C
Model/Series: LAKE LA-4-250 
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: GIF, 146 ft msl
Observation Time: 12:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 4 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 27°C /17°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots / , 120°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 3400 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.2 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point: Winter Haven, FL 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 28.097036,-81.807039

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290.

AUBURNDALE, Florida — A husband and wife were killed Friday afternoon when their plane crashed into a Polk County lake, the Auburndale Police Department said.

John William Schmalz III, 70, and Lynann Elaine Kurr, 62, of Winter Haven were killed after their plane crashed into Lake Arietta Friday around 12:25 p.m.

Dennis Jackson, who was working on his pool deck nearby, previously told 8 On Your Side he heard the plane in distress moments before it splashed down.

“I was thinking, I hope that plane pulls up pretty soon because if it isn’t, it’s going to probably be in my living room,” he said.

That’s when Jackson saw the plane, a Lake LA-250 Renegade, crash straight down into the water and explode into flames.

In a press release, the Auburndale Police Department said, “We want to express our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and also would like to acknowledge our partners at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Auburndale Fire Department for their significant assistance in this investigation.”

Authorities said the investigation is ongoing at this time. The NTSB will investigate the cause of the crash.


  1. Local flight. The two were associated with Lake Amphibian Flyers Club.
    Google Maps shows a Lake amphib on the lawn of the registration address, across Lake Hartridge from Winter Haven Regional.

    Track recordings:

    Current club web link:
    Prior weblink (2015 was the last newsletter posted there)

    1. News video shows a fire before it sank:

  2. The investigation continues but media doesn't state the facts that this accident was a bird strike to the wind shield. Divers found a large buzzard inside cabin with pilot.

    1. Where did you see that information? This pilot is my Neighbor and we have not heard any news.

  3. Sounds more likely that the bird struck the engine air intake located on the engine pylon, that could explain reports of engine "sputtering"

  4. Well, its been a little over a year and I am not seeing the official NTSB report of the facts based on the investigation of this tragic event. Anyone know of anything aside from the sarcastic buzard comments (not all) posted above??