Door-off flight kills two

This June 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: Rans Coyote II S6. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Lincoln, Calif. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The day before the accident, the pilot, who had logged about 380 hours, removed the doors of his two-seat, 65-hp plane and flew it successfully. The aircraft documentation noted that with the doors removed, climb and cruise performance would be reduced.

On the day of the accident, the pilot took off with a passenger. The doors were still off the airplane.

According to a witness on the ground, the airplane was returning to the airport at an altitude of 500 feet. When the airplane turned to downwind, there was another airplane in the traffic pattern ahead of the accident airplane. It then entered a left bank of approximately 35° to 40°, presumably to increase the spacing between aircraft. According to witnesses, the plane appeared to be traveling slower than normal. During the turn, the left wing dipped and the airplane entered a descending spiral and crashed.

The post-accident examination of the airplane did not find any pre-impact mechanical issues.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed while in a turn, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and subsequent loss of control. Contributing to the accident was the increased drag on the airplane with the doors removed.

For more information: NTSB Identification: WPR10LA293



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