The sport pilot and the passenger were making a local flight in the powered parachute near Knoxville, Tennessee. The passenger, who survived the accident, reported that, about an hour into the flight, the pilot turned to the east toward the passenger’s home. After overflying the passenger’s home at low altitude, the pilot maneuvered the powered parachute to the east toward rising terrain and trees.
The passenger’s wife was outside her home at the time of the accident and noticed that the aircraft was flying low, and other witnesses also reported seeing the aircraft flying low before the accident.
According to the passenger, the aircraft did not climb quickly enough to clear the trees. The landing gear struck about three trees and the aircraft dropped into the woods, striking tree limbs on the way down. The pilot died in the crash.
Post-accident examination of the wreckage did not reveal evidence of a pre-impact mechanical malfunction or anomaly, and the passenger reported that he did not notice any significant change in engine speed before the aircraft struck the trees. The engine ran satisfactorily when tested after the accident.
Probable cause: The pilot’s decision to maneuver the aircraft at low altitude, towards rising terrain, which resulted in an inflight collision with trees.
NTSB Identification: ERA17FA144
This April 2017 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.