Witnesses on the ground stated that the Kitfox took off from Runway 27 at St. Lucie, Fla., then entered the pattern for landing. One witness noted that, during the downwind leg, the airplane was “very close in” to the runway.
The witnesses said that the sky was hazy and cloudy at the time of the accident and that the airplane was flying through the clouds on the downwind leg.
Another witness stated that during the airplane’s turn onto final approach, the nose of the Kitfox dropped and the plane pitched down.
The plane crashed behind a treeline. Multiple witnesses reported hearing the engine operating at the time of the crash.
The airplane’s close, downwind track and the wreckage location relative to the runway were consistent with a cross-controlled aerodynamic stall.
Toxicology testing on the 62-year-old private pilot detected low levels of the sedating antihistamine diphenhydramine and therapeutic levels of the sedating antihistamine doxylamine. The combination of the two drugs may increase side effects such as drowsiness, confusion, and memory problems, and the pilot’s combined use of both drugs likely impaired his performance and contributed to the accident.
The NTSB determined the probable causes as the pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed during the turn to final, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s combined use of two sedating antihistamines, which resulted in his impairment.
NTSB Identification: ERA13FA201
This April 2013 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.