Test flight ends in crash

Aircraft: Wittman Tailwind. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Fulton, N.Y. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot, who was also the builder of the experimental aircraft, was making the flight to become more familiar with the plane in order to complete the required 40 flight hours of the phase one operating limitations. The pilot had logged 759.6 hours of time, including 111.8 hours in the accident airplane.

Several witnesses on the ground said the engine was sputtering as the airplane pitched nose down and crashed into trees.

The post-accident examination did not uncover any pre-crash mechanical difficulties.

However, investigators determined that based on the temperature and dew point at the time of the accident, the conditions were favorable for serious carburetor icing at a cruise power setting. The carburetor heat control was in the off position at the time of the crash.

Investigators determined that it was likely that the airplane experienced a partial power loss, possibly due to carburetor icing, and further determined that the pilot, still becoming familiar with the handling characteristics of the airplane, likely became preoccupied with restoring full engine power and maneuvering the airplane toward the airport to land and unintentionally entered an aerodynamic stall.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall. Contributing to the accident was a partial loss of engine power due to the formation of carburetor ice.

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA093


This December 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. Rich says

    But even if you panic and forget all of that.
    Fly the airplane all the way to the crash site.
    Straining a single engine airplane through a grove of mesquite trees or pine trees or a corn field is much more likely to be survival that stalling from ANY altitude.
    #1 thing to do?
    Fly the airplane.

  2. vaughn price says

    The # 1 thing to do with any loss of power is mixture rich
    The # 2 thing to do is carb heat on
    The # 3 thing to do is if multi tanks, switch tanks
    and if you have a manual wobble pump, start pumping, or turn boost pump on
    and while busy with fuel problems, Look for a good place to park it

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