Downdraft catches Kitfox

Aircraft: Kitfox Classic IV. Injuries: 1 Serious. Location: Myrtle Creek, Ore. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: While taxiing to the run-up area, the pilot noted the windsock aligned with his intended departure runway. Following an uneventful engine run-up, he taxied onto the runway and noted the windsock shifted to a 90° crosswind, then realign with the runway. During takeoff a gust of wind pushed the airplane 90° to the right. The pilot leveled the wings and felt the airplane descending. Despite attempts to arrest the descent, the airplane came down in trees.

Review of recorded data from a weather station near the accident site revealed wind from 170° at 7 knots, gusting to 19 knots about 24 minutes before the accident. About 36 minutes after the accident, the wind was recorded from 180° at 13 knots, gusting to 26 knots.

Probable cause: The pilot’s encounter with a wind-shear/downdraft that exceeded the climb performance capabilities of the airplane.

NTSB Identification: WPR11FA153

This March 2011 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.

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