Friday, March 18, 2022

Czech Sport Aircraft PiperSport, N811PS: Fatal accident occurred March 17, 2022 in Homestead, Miami-Dade 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; South Florida

Read Aviation Inc

Location: Homestead, Florida 
Accident Number: ERA22LA162
Date and Time: March 17, 2022, 13:45 Local
Registration: N811PS
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On March 17, 2022, about 1345 eastern daylight time, an experimental light sport Czech Sport Aircraft Piper Sport airplane, N811PS, was lost from radar and presumed destroyed about 15 nautical miles west of Everglades National Park, Florida. The pilot has not been located. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

Airplane wreckage and paperwork associated with both the airplane and the pilot were recovered and secured by the U.S. Park Service.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) preliminary flight track data showed that the airplane departed The Florida Keys Marathon International Airport (MTH), Marathon, Florida about 1312. The airplane eventually climbed to a cruise altitude of about 1,450 ft mean sea level (msl) and flew northwest toward Naples Municipal Airport (APF), Naples, Florida. The airplane maintained its altitude, 336° heading, and 125-knot groundspeed until 1323, when it descended and increased airspeed gradually. The track data depicted a rapid climb from 1,200 ft msl to 1,800 ft msl at 1324 while the target slowed to 74 knots groundspeed. The airplane then resumed its previous heading and groundspeed at an altitude about 1,450 ft msl until 1327, when it began a series of erratic heading, altitude, and groundspeed excursions.

The track depicted a brief climb before the airplane descended, accelerated, and completed a 240° teardrop turn to the east. During the turn, the altitude varied between 1,600 ft msl and 800 ft msl and groundspeeds varied between 83 and 143 knots. The airplane then continued in a wide, arcing left turn until it intercepted its original course. Once reestablished on its same approximate course, the airplane assumed a cruise profile about 800 ft msl and 100 knots groundspeed about 1331.

The altitudes varied only slightly between 800 and 900 ft msl, and groundspeed remained about 100 knots until 1343:38, when the airplane’s track ended on a 336° heading at 825 ft msl and 100 knots groundspeed. No further targets were identified, and preliminary air traffic control (ATC) records revealed that the airplane never established communication with any ATC facilities after departing
MTH. Figure 1 shows preliminary flight track information, with the accident flight depicted in green and the previous flight depicted in yellow.

The airplane was manufactured in 2010, and its maintenance history could not be immediately reviewed. According to the pilot’s family, both the airplane maintenance logs and the pilot’s logbook were likely aboard the airplane.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. His most recent third-class medical certificate was issued May 20, 2014, and he reported 1,350 total hours of flight experience on that date. The pilot completed the BasicMed Course on August 30, 2017.

Review of flight track information for the flight from APH to MTH earlier on the day of the accident revealed similar erratic altitude, heading, and speed excursions as those displayed during the accident flight. The data indicated that the pilot flew a left downwind leg for landing on runway 07 at MTH at an altitude of 200 ft msl. At a point consistent with a left base leg, the airplane completed a 180° turn and flew a right downwind for runway 25 at 200 ft msl, landing opposite the direction of traffic.

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data showed that the accident airplane landed on runway 25 when a business jet was on short final for landing on runway 07. In written statements, the crew of the business jet advised that the accident airplane cleared the runway before they were required to abort their landing.

The data showed that the accident airplane taxied erratically on the airport surface with numerous heading changes and course reversals over a 6-minute span. Ground personnel stated that the pilot did not respond to radio calls and had to be told in person by a lineman that his party was parked at the opposite end of the airport. The airplane also experienced another head-on encounter with the landing
business jet while on the taxiway.

Two friends of the pilot were interviewed by telephone, and their versions of events were consistent throughout. The three had agreed to fly their individual airplanes from APH, where they were based, to MTH, take a shuttle to lunch, then fly back to APH. The accident occurred on the return flight. Neither heard the accident pilot over the radio, and they became concerned when they felt his arrival at APH was overdue.

The friends described the departure from APH, their arrival at MTH ahead of the accident pilot, and how his arrival “took longer than expected.” Each were retired airline pilots and the tracks of both flights were discussed with them. They said that the pilot explained his opposite-direction landing based on his interpretation of the windsock. Each was asked to describe the pilot’s appearance, behavior, and if any of those behaviors concerned him. One responded, “Yes, he didn’t eat his lunch, which was unusual.” The other individual said that the pilot was engaged in their lunch conversation, and that he would have acted if he had any concerns. He added, “My wife said he seemed off, but I didn’t notice anything unusual except that he didn’t eat the dinner he ordered.”

In a telephone interview, the lineman who parked the accident pilot next to his waiting friends said he had been an EMT “for 15 years” and immediately noticed that the pilot struggled to egress his airplane and appeared “befuddled” when he got out. He asked if the pilot wanted fuel or any other services, and the pilot “wouldn’t” respond. A pilot outside the party of three confronted the accident pilot about entering the traffic pattern and landing in the opposite direction without making any radio calls. The lineman said that the pilot did not respond, continued to appear “befuddled,” and his friends “defended him” and then took him away to go to lunch. The other pilots explained that the accident pilot “didn’t have a radio” as the radio in his airplane was inoperative. He added, “I feared for the pilot because he was ‘devastated’ by what he had done. He was wrong, both on the landing and when he taxied. He looked devastated.”

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N811PS
Model/Series: PIPER SPORT 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
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: KMKY, 5 ft msl
Observation Time: 13:56 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 34 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C /21°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 7 knots / , 230°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 10000 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.05 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Marathon, FL 
Destination: Naples, GA (APH)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 25.470579,-81.430733 (est)

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.

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