The owner of the recently-purchased, 65-hp Kitfox II was undergoing tailwheel endorsement training. He and the flight instructor had previously flown the plane about nine hours, for about two hours each time, with no problems noted.
They had begun the flight about an hour earlier; the wind was from the west, and they were landing and taking off on the single runway toward the north at the airport in Vicksburg, Miss.After a touch-and-go landing, when the plane was 300 to 400 above the ground in a full-power, climbing right turn, it stopped climbing.
The pilots checked that the power was at maximum, and the flight instructor took control. He continued the turn to the south, but the airplane continued to lose altitude.
The CFI thought about landing on a parallel road, but because there were cars present, he landed the plane, still at full power, on the roof of an industrial supply building, resulting in two serious injuries.
The pilot/owner thought the descent could have resulted from windshear or a swirl, as the airplane had “good forward motion” during the entire descent.
The CFI stated that, at the time of the accident, the airplane was 50 pounds under its 950-pound maximum gross weight.
Subsequent examination of the wreckage indicated evidence of high power at impact and did not reveal any preexisting mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.
The wind, recorded at the airport about five minutes before the accident, was from the southwest at 12 knots. About 15 minutes after the accident, the wind was from the southwest, but variable from the south and west at 8 knots; and about 35 minutes after the accident, the wind was from the southwest at 9 knots, gusting to 15 knots.
A review of atmospheric conditions at the time revealed an unstable but dry atmosphere that may have resulted in downdrafts.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the airplane’s low-level encounter with a downdraft that maximum engine power could not overcome.
NTSB Identification: ERA14LA164
This March 2014 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.