The pilot and passenger planned on a short flight around the traffic pattern in an open-cockpit, light sport airplane.
Shortly after takeoff, as the pilot turned downwind, he heard a “crack,” and the engine started to vibrate and lose power. He applied power, but the engine did not respond. He turned sharply left and then tried to stop the turn and descend, but the airplane continued to turn and descend until it hit a ravine near St. Mary’s, Kansas. Both the pilot and passenger were seriously injured in the crash.
A witness saw two objects fall from the airplane shortly after the engine sound “stopped.”
Both objects were retrieved. The first was the passenger’s knitted hat, the top of which was “chewed up” and had a line burnt/melted into it. The other object was one of the propeller blades.
The accident is consistent with the passenger’s hat exiting the cockpit and impacting the three-bladed pusher propeller, which led to the separation of one of the propeller blades and the subsequent loss of engine power.
Probable cause: The loss of engine power due to a propeller failure when the passenger’s hat exited the cockpit and impacted the three-bladed pusher propeller, separating one of the propeller blades.
NTSB Identification: CEN18LA027
This November 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.