First flight, last flight

Aircraft: STOL CH701. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Pulaski, Wis. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The private pilot, 67, was the builder of the experimental, amateur-built airplane. The accident was the airplane’s first flight.

It was climbing out when it veered to the left and narrowly cleared a tree line. The plane entered a steep climb, leveled off, then entered a left turn and then a second steep climb.

It continued in the left turn until it entered a steep downward spiral, crashing about 800 feet from the threshold of the runway.

No pre-impact structural issues were found during the investigation.

Probable cause: The pilot’s lack of aircraft control during initial climb, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall.

NTSB Identification: CEN11FA310

This April 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.


  1. Ed Seaton says

    I’m 82,still flying and instructing.Have 18,000 hours.Flying for 66Years.I look 20 years younger.Have my own plane.And I know I won’t die in a plane.I’ve been aCrop-duster,Charter Pilot,Corporation Pilot,Flight Instructor,I’m ATP Rated Been an Advance Ground Instructor,etc.I’ve been told there three ages of man,Psychological,Biological andChronological.My Psychological age is 40 years old,MyBiological age is around 60,and of course my Chronological age is 82.Take that in your pipe and smoke it.

  2. Buford Suffridge says

    Who knows whether there were any age related issues in this accident, other than a couple of the previous writers who claim to be experts on the subject, but the statistics I’ve read don’t support it? I’ve seen 67 year olds who can hardly walk and I’ve seen 37 year olds who can hardly walk. I’ve had 25 year old friends die of heart attacks and I’ve had 80 year old friends die of heart attacks. Health has no age boundaries. I know a man who is 90, flies either a Baron or a 172 nearly every day and walks three miles every day. I’d fly with him long before I’d fly with some of the young hot shots I see piloting in our area.
    My cousin was killed in an identical scenario as this 67 year old gentleman and he was in his mid-30’s. Regardless of age, stuff happens.

    • RudyH says

      Right you are….and That is the gamble with the age factor across the board for the senior aviator population…

  3. Richard says

    There was nothing in the article stating the pilot’s recent flight experience in an aircraft with similar flight characteristics, however, a lot of folks immediately want to jump on the “too old” bandwagon. I would bet that he hadn’t flown very much, if at all, during the time he was building the airplane which could have been over a year or two. I flew airline for 30 years and when Elwood Quesada was FAA administrator and pushed the age 60 maximum for airline pilots, we had a coupl;e of pilots in their 70’s who were every bit as sharp as any of the younger guys. Only using a pilot’s chronological age as a gauge as to whether he/she is fit to fly is wrong. I have been flying since I was 17 and now at 77, still fly my Cessna 180. I would bet that this accident was caused by lack of recent flight experience and different flight chacteristics from what he had been used to flying.

    • RudyH says

      Surely, take your risks and certainly the accompanying responsibilities for what may go awry, your call it is,

  4. James M Brewer says

    Rudy &Rob, You both are right, age does have an effect on our motor skills. As stated, its a personal decision. I applaud both of you for recognizing where you need to draw the line in your personal flying. We certainly don’t need any more reports like this. BTW, I’m 75 and an active Commercial ferry pilot that takes and passes my FAA medical as required, however I now decline aircraft that are beyond my current capabilities. Fly safe and accident free.

    • RudyH says

      Kudos to you Sir James, your intellect graciously precedes your ego; we should be so fortunate to have many more senior aviators with your sense of recognition of age limitations….btw beware of the wannabe trolls out here…DFTT…. 😉

  5. says

    You obviously don’t know much about experimental aircraft and the regulations that apply to the test phase. To blame this on age is absolutly idiotic and shows your complete lack of understanding of the situation. The regulations require that the test phase of any homebuilt, be flown Solo, or with only the required personnel on board, which in this case was only the pilot. The most obvious problem here, is that the pilot was not familiar with this aircraft and its handling characteristics. If that is actually the case, then his only failing was not getting currency training in a similar aircraft before trying to fly this one. People should never comment about things of which they have NO knowledge.

  6. RudyH says

    Another instance of an age factor (judgement ability), and another aviator choosing to ignore the medical fitness currency regs……(P.S. I’m 62 and will always have an aviation skilled person on board when I fly…..My Regs supplement the FAA’s….)

    • RobC says

      I read the NTSB accident report and fail to see where you came to the conclusion this was age related. Bad judgement and not following regs has no age limit. All you have to do is look at the crazy things young pilots do on You Tube and at your local field. And I hate to tell you but as pilot in command you are supposed to be the skilled person on board. I can only speak for myself but as a student pilot who also happens to be 65, I’m not going through all this to only be able to fly with someone sitting in the right seat just to hold my hands. At some point I should be able to fly alone or there is no point to it.

      • RudyH says

        I’M saying it’s age related….age deteriorates skills, albeit immeasurably, but it nevertheless does… shed the things of youth gracefully with acceptance. Like I said, it’s my call, your call. I’ll either be around and/or I won’t have caused needless injury/death to myself/others. (Btw….airlines crews don’t have both PIC and CP over 60 in age either…..think there’s something there about age?)

        • Ike Yancy says

          This guy who crashed obviously had no idea how to fly the airplane. It had nothing to do with age. Stupidity knows no age limit. It was apparently the first airplane he ever built. He has to be nuts to hop into the first airplane he ever built and try to be a test pilot.

          As for the airlines mandatory retirement age of 60, that has a lot more to do with insurance companies than with age.

        • P.T. Cullman says

          Age haf nothing to do with this. It could be rigging or just poor workmanship. I am 88 and still aviate safely. I fly an assortment of aircraft. Recency is necessary!

          • RudyH says

            So tell us Ed, with all that, just what control do you really have as to when it’s your time to ‘move on’?….age is still what it is……nothin’ to smoke about ‘ole timer….

          • RudyH says

            Absolutely, as the ‘gamble’ becomes greater with age, one will only know for sure when that one becomes that ‘statistic’ at the moment that one does…..

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