The pilot of the experimental amateur-built airplane reported in a written statement that he had recently purchased the Firestar, and upon receiving it, he completed numerous taxi runs in a straight line, but did not attempt to take off due to poor weather.
He added that the airplane was hard to taxi in a straight line. He further reported that, days later, with improved weather, he decided to complete a “test flight.”
During the initial climb, the airplane “immediately started to drift to the left,” and as it continued to climb, the airplane “continued to make a left turn.”
He added that he applied right rudder and aileron and increased the power from 1/2 to 3/4 full, but that the plane continued to the left.
He flew in the local area for about 20 minutes and could not resolve the left turning issue. Concerned about the remaining fuel quantity, he attempted to land at his private airstrip in Westfield, Pennsylvania.
He reported that he attempted two approaches, but the plane continued turning to the left toward trees, and he performed go-arounds. During the third approach, he decided he would attempt to “touch down as quickly as possible,” but during the landing flare, the plane continued to the left and hit trees.
The airplane was destroyed and the pilot was injured in the crash.
The pilot reported, “after replaying the accident in my mind, I decided that when I was doing my test taxiing, I might have been introvertly [sic] pressing the left trim button on the control stick. I might have done this several times, which resulted in the crash.”
The pilot did not submit the NTSB Form 6120.1 Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report. He also did not report that he had received any recent flight training.
An FAA aviation safety inspector reported that he located the electric rudder trim switch on top of the control stick and observed the rudder trim servo in the full-left-trim position. He further reported that the airplane was unregistered because the registration certificate had lapsed. He reported that the pilot, who was also the owner of the airplane, was required to renew the registration certificate.
He added that the pilot reported to him that he had not flown as pilot-in-command for 20 years.
A technical representative for the experimental airplane kit manufacturer reported that the original kit design did not include electric trim for any flight control surfaces.
Probable cause: The pilot’s improper decision to operate an airplane without recent flight training and his inadvertent application of left electric rudder trim before flight and a subsequent loss of airplane control.
NTSB Identification: GAA17CA536
This July 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.