Pilot dies in first solo in weight-shift control aircraft

On Feb. 2, 2019, an Airborne Windsports Edge X weight-shift-control aircraft was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident at Jumbolair Airport (17FL), in Ocala, Florida. The noncertificated pilot died in the crash.

During a post-accident interview, a friend of the pilot said he was driving away from the airport when he saw the aircraft take off and climb to about 100 to 125 feet above ground level. The aircraft then veered left and right, briefly flew straight, and seemed “to be pushed” to the right.

Afterward, the nose dropped, and the aircraft hit the ground in a nose-low attitude. The pilot’s friend reported the engine “never missed a lick.”

During a separate post-accident interview, the pilot’s friend also described that the engine was at full power during the climbout and that the wings were “wagging” before the aircraft crashed.

The pilot’s friend stated that he had been flying with the pilot since 2001and had made about 25 to 30 flights with him, during which he rode in the back seat. The pilot’s friend estimated that the pilot had about 40 to 50 hours of total flight experience in weight-shift-control aircraft.

According to a friend of the witness to the accident, his friend had been providing the pilot with flight instruction for about a year, and the accident flight was the pilot’s first solo flight. The friend of the witness showed a video from his friend’s social media account depicting the aircraft taxiing to the runway and a verbal statement indicating that the pilot was making his “first solo and he was probably nervous right about now.”

A search of FAA airman records revealed that the pilot did not hold a student pilot certificate. The friend of the pilot also did not possess a pilot or flight instructor certificate.

A post-accident examination revealed that the aircraft hit the ground about 300 feet west of Runway 36 on a magnetic heading of 330°. The fuselage was on its side with the nose crushed up to the engine area. The right wing was broken midspan, and the left wing was intact.

Examination of the engine and fuel system revealed no preaccident discrepancies that would have precluded normal operation. The aircraft was equipped with a whole-airframe ballistic parachute system, which was found partially deployed.

Probable Cause: The noncertificated pilot’s exceedance of the aircraft’s critical angle of attack, which resulted in

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