Aviation Accident Summaries

Aviation Accident Summary ERA23FA046

Southington, OH, USA

Aircraft #1


ZENITH CH750 Cruzer


According to another pilot at the airport on the day of the accident, the accident pilot departed with the intention of staying in the traffic pattern. The airport manager reported that the pilot typically took off from the asphalt runway and landed on the turf runway; the pilot at the airport observed the accident airplane take off from the asphalt runway and turn left, consistent with entering left traffic for the turf runway. There were no known witnesses to the accident. The airplane wreckage came to rest on the extended base leg of the traffic pattern for the turf runway, consistent with overshooting the turn to the final leg of the traffic pattern. Examination of the wreckage revealed no preexisting mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. The wind at the time of the accident would have resulted in a left quartering tailwind for the base leg of the traffic pattern. Although there was no flight track data for the flight, given the witness statement and the wreckage location, it is likely that the pilot was planning to land on the turf runway. The wreckage location and wind conditions were consistent with the pilot overshooting the final approach leg and entering a cross-controlled aerodynamic stall while trying to return to the final approach path. Therefore, it’s likely that, while maneuvering to align with the runway during the base to final turn, the pilot failed to maintain the proper airspeed, which resulted in the exceedance of the airplane’s critical angle of attack and the airplane entering an aerodynamic stall at an altitude that was too low to recover.

Factual Information

HISTORY OF FLIGHTOn October 28, 2022, at 1243 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Zenith CH 750 Cruzer, N820RC, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Southington, Ohio. The sport pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. According to a witness who spoke to the accident pilot, the airplane was working “fine” and the pilot intended to fly in the local area. The witness then watched the pilot perform an engine run-up, and saw the airplane take off from runway 22 around 1130, with no anomalies noted. The airplane turned left into the airport traffic pattern and the witness departed the airport for his flight. According to the airport manager, the pilot usually departed on runway 4/22, which was asphalt, and then landed on runway 18/36, which was turf. Both runways had left traffic patterns (see figure 1). Figure 1 - View of airport traffic patterns in relation to the accident location. The orange dashed line is the left traffic pattern for the asphalt runway (4/22). The green dashed line is the left traffic pattern for the turf runway (18/36). WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATIONThe airplane came to rest in a residential yard across the street from airport property. All major components of the airplane were located in the vicinity of the main wreckage and an odor similar to gasoline was noted at the accident site. The airplane struck a tree before impacting the ground and parts of the windscreen were scattered along a 239° magnetic heading. The fuselage with the empennage attached remained intact. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the controls in the cockpit to the elevator and rudder. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the control stick in the cockpit to the right flaperon, and from the control stick to the base of the left wing. The control rod from the base of the left wing was stripped from the connection point; however, there were impact marks on the fuselage consistent with the flaperon contacting the fuselage during the impact sequence. Contact signatures from the flaperons on both sides of the fuselage were similar. The wings were separated from the fuselage by first responders. The flaperons remained attached to their respective wings. The leading edge of the right wing was dented. The leading edge of the left wing had semicircular impact damage with tree bark lodged in the impact area. The engine remained attached to the airframe. The propeller was manually rotated through 360° of motion, and crankshaft and valvetrain continuity were confirmed. Thumb compression was noted on all cylinders. The cylinders were examined with a lighted borescope and no anomalies were noted. Both magnetos remained attached to the accessory section of the engine. The input drives of each were manually rotated by hand and produced spark on all towers. Magneto timing was checked and no anomalies were noted. The carburetor was removed, disassembled, and no anomalies were noted. Fuel was noted in the carburetor bowl and gascolator. The oil pressure and suction screens were removed, examined, and were not obstructed. The propeller hub remained attached to the crankshaft. One propeller blade remained attached to the hub and the other blade was impact separated and located in the vicinity of the main wreckage. Both propeller blades exhibited light chordwise scratching. ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCross-Control Stalls According to the FAA Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3B), The aerodynamic effects of the uncoordinated, cross-control stall can surprise the unwary pilot because it can occur with very little warning and can be deadly if it occurs close to the ground. The nose may pitch down, the bank angle may suddenly change and the airplane may continue to roll to an inverted position, which is usually the beginning of a spin. It is therefore essential for the pilot to follow stall recovery by reducing the AOA [angle of attack] until the stall warning has been eliminated, then roll wings level using ailerons, and coordinate with rudder inputs before the airplane enters a spiral or spin. A cross-control stall occurs when the critical AOA is exceeded with aileron pressure applied in one direction and rudder pressure in the opposite direction, causing uncoordinated flight. A skidding cross control stall is most likely to occur in the traffic pattern during a poorly planned and executed base-to final approach turn in which the airplane overshoots the runway centerline and the pilot attempts to correct back to centerline by increasing bank angle, increasing elevator back pressure, and applying rudder in the direction of the turn (i.e. inside or bottom rudder pressure) to bring the nose around further to align it with the runway. The difference in lift between the inside and outside wing will increase, resulting in an unwanted increase in bank angle. At the same time, the nose of the airplane slices downward through the horizon. The natural reaction to this may be for the pilot to pull back on the elevator control, increasing the AOA toward critical. Should a stall be encountered with these inputs, the airplane may rapidly enter a spin. The safest action for an "overshoot" is to perform a go around. At the relatively low altitude of a base-to-final approach turn, a pilot should be reluctant to use angles of bank beyond 30 degrees to correct back to runway centerline.

Probable Cause and Findings

The pilot's failure to maintain proper airspeed while maneuvering in the airport traffic pattern and his exceedance of the airplane’s critical angle of attack, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall at an altitude that was too low to recover.


Source: NTSB Aviation Accident Database

Get all the details on your iPhone or iPad with:

Aviation Accidents App

In-Depth Access to Aviation Accident Reports