Distracted pilot goes off runway

Aircraft: Vans RV-12. Injuries: 1 Minor. Location: Windom, Nev. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot reported that he inadvertently did not secure the canopy latch after entering the cockpit.

After takeoff, he noticed air entering the cockpit from the unsecured canopy. He stated that he was distracted with attempting to secure the canopy and the airplane descended toward the runway.

He attempted to arrest the descent and put the airplane into a level attitude, but did not accomplish this before running out of altitude. The airplane pancaked onto the runway, then slid off the pavement and into a soybean field.

The pilot stated that the accident could have been prevented had he focused on flying the airplane instead of attempting to secure the unlatched canopy.

Probable cause: The pilot’s loss of airplane control after liftoff due to his distraction with the unsecured canopy, which he did not lock before takeoff.

NTSB Identification: CEN11LA601

This August 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. RudyH says

    Aviator did state that his pilot error due to not flying the aircraft first, to land, to secure canopy….rarely see that admission….

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