This April 2008 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: Lancair Legacy. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Lakeland, Fla. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: According to witnesses, the pilot was observed having difficulty closing the canopy on the airplane prior to takeoff. The pilot’s most recent medical certificate showed that he had accumulated 234 hours of flight time, but his logbook was not recovered for examination.
During the takeoff climb, a witness said he saw the cockpit canopy moving and believed the pilot was pushing it up and down about 6 to 12 inches. Another witness stated that shortly after takeoff, the engine lost power and the airplane continued straight and level. Another witness stated that she saw a plastic bag float down from the sky shortly after the airplane passed over her location. The bag contained several of the airplane’s documents. The airplane then nosed down and the left wing dropped as the airplane stalled, then hit the ground and caught fire. The fire consumed part of the engine and the majority of the airframe, including the canopy latching system. Examination of the available wreckage did not reveal any evidence of pre-impact failures or malfunctions.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain aircraft control. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s distraction with the canopy during takeoff.
For more information: NTSB.gov