The pilot reported that, shortly after the Zenith 601XL departed the runway in Leakey, Texas, the canopy popped open. This caused a large amount of drag, so he pushed the nose over to gain airspeed. The plane subsequently landed hard on the runway.
Data extracted from the airplane’s primary flight display revealed that the canopy latch became unsecured about 14 seconds into the 18-second flight.
It is likely that the pilot, who was seriously injured in the crash, failed to properly secure the latch before takeoff.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s failure to maintain control of the airplane after the canopy opened on takeoff. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to properly secure the canopy latch before takeoff.
NTSB Identification: CEN14LA087
This December 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.