Luscombe ends up in pond

This March 2010 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Luscombe 8A. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Savannah, Ga. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: About 19 years before the accident, the pilot held a commercial certificate and an FAA medical certificate. At the time of the accident he had approximately 2,055 hours and was operating the airplane as a Sport Pilot, which did not require him to hold a FAA medical certificate. The pilot’s logbook did not show any flights in the accident airplane.

Prior to engine start, the pilot advised the witness that he intended to fly for about 45 minutes and that he would stay close to the airport. The witness hand-propped the airplane for the pilot. The engine started on the second attempt. The witness stated everything sounded and appeared normal but the takeoff appeared a little wobbly, but it was quite normal considering how breezy it was. The witness left the airport before the pilot returned from the flight.

The next day the airplane was found submerged in a pond about 100 yards off the departure end of the runway. There were no witnesses to the accident.

Examination of the wreckage revealed damage indicative of a low-power, low-speed, aerodynamic stall and collision with water. Post-mortem examination of the pilot revealed the presence of arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease and hypertensive heart disease, and the recent use of antidepressants, anti-anxiety, and painkilling medications. It was not known to what degree, if any, these issues affected the outcome of the flight.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed and inadvertent stall after takeoff.

For more information: NTSB Identification: ERA10LA164




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  1. Dennis Reiley says

    Incidents like this is why even sport pilots should have to take and pass an annual physical – just not flight physical. Traveling in three dimensions absolutely requires the pilot to be in reasonably good health without uncontrolled prescription side effects, something that cannot be determined except under a doctor’s care.

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