Sunday, June 19, 2022

Maule MX-7-235, N13ZF: Incident occurred June 11, 2022 in Columbia, Tuolumne County, California

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fresno, California

Aircraft caught gust of wind and flipped over during takeoff from New Melones Lake.

13ZF LLC


Date: 11-JUN-22
Time: 21:55:00Z
Regis#: N13ZF
Aircraft Make: MAULE
Aircraft Model: MX-7
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: TAKEOFF (TOF)
Operation: 91
City: COLUMBIA
State: CALIFORNIA





A pilot survived a crash on takeoff Saturday from New Melones Reservoir near Columbia, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson said Monday.

The Maule MX-7-235, N13ZF, flipped over during takeoff from New Melones. Only the pilot was onboard, and the FAA and local law enforcement agencies did not identify the pilot Monday. 

The plane is registered to an unnamed owner in Bend, Oregon. The pilot and the plane were not connected to Columbia Airport, the airport manager said in a phone interview.

Scanner followers began posting about the crash after 2 p.m. Saturday. The FAA said it occurred about 3 p.m. Saturday. Chicago-based FAA spokesperson Elizabeth Isham Cory said the information was preliminary and subject to change.

The FAA will investigate the crash, Cory said.

New Melones lies on the Stanislaus River between Calaveras and Tuolumne counties, and boat deputies from both counties investigated, Lt. Greg Stark with the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office said. 

Stark said the pilot was OK, but did not provide any further details. There were no other people on the plane aside from the pilot.

Tuolumne County sheriff’s boating deputies were dispatched to New Melones about 2 p.m. Saturday, said Ashley Boujikian, a public information officer and investigator with the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office. Initial reports were of an amphibious plane that had crashed in the reservoir and was upside down.

Boating unit deputies responded with lights and sirens, Boujikian said. When they arrived, they found the pilot sitting on top of the submerged plane. Deputies learned the pilot was taking off when the plane overturned for an unknown reason.

The pilot escaped the plane while it was under water. He told deputies he was uninjured. 

Deputies used at least one boat to give the pilot a ride and to tow the plane “as close to the shore as possible,” Boujikian said.

While the plane was being towed to shore, pontoons that provide surface area for the plane float, take off, and land started taking on water and the plane began to sink, Boujikian said. Deputies towed the plane as close to shore as possible before being forced to cut the tow line. The location of the plane was marked for future recovery efforts.

Asked for the pilot’s name, age, and hometown, Boujikian responded, “We are not releasing the pilot’s name.”

Investigation of the cause of the crash has been turned over to the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board, Boujikian said.

It was not immediately clear Monday how much fuel and other aircraft fluids leaked from the plane into New Melones, which is the state’s fourth-largest capacity water storage reservoir.

Scanner followers said the plane was upside down between the Tuttletown boat ramps and New Melones Dam. Law enforcement and fire personnel responded to Tuttletown. Cal Fire Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit staff referred questions to the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office, which did not immediately respond.

The manufacturer of the plane, Maule Air, Inc. is based in Moultrie, Georgia and it’s billed as a maker of light, single-engine aircraft. Maule says the Maule MX-7 “is a fun and easy to fly short takeoff and landing aircraft.”

Maule MX-7s are typically powered by Lycoming engines. The plane that crashed had a six-cylinder 540-cubic-inch Lycoming, according to FAA registry records.

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