Last Track Data Showed The Airplane At An Altitude Of 200 Ft MSL And A Groundspeed Of 105 Knots

Location: Auburndale, FL Accident Number: ERA22LA090
Date & Time: December 17, 2021, 12:24 Local Registration: N1402C
Aircraft: Aerofab Inc Lake LA-4-250 Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On December 17, 2021, at 1224 eastern standard time, a Lake LA-250 amphibious airplane, N1402C, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident in Auburndale, Florida. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight.

According to Federal Aviation Administration preliminary tracking data, the airplane departed from Lake Hartridge, Winter Haven, Florida, about 1130. The airplane departed to the south, then turned  north and flew about 25 miles before heading southwest toward Lake Arietta. The airplane flew over the center of Lake Arietta on a southbound heading, at an altitude of 500-600 ft above mean sea level, at a groundspeed of 92-96 knots. The last track data showed the airplane at an altitude of 200 ft msl and a groundspeed of 105 knots near the southern end of the lake, about 0.1 mile northeast of the accident site.

A witness, located on the southwest shore of the lake, about 0.1 mile abeam the accident site, reported that the airplane was flying toward his location, at a “fairly low altitude” as the engine was “making a sputtering noise.” He added that he did not see any smoke or flames or other signs of distress. As the airplane continued toward his location, it descended at a steep angle and impacted the lake in a nose down attitude. After impact, the airplane “came apart and there was an immediate, explosive ball of flames and smoke.”

Another witness saw the airplane flying low over the lake and reported that the engine sounded as if it was “struggling to develop full power.” He then saw the airplane in a climbing right turn and banking before he lost sight of it below a tree line.

During recovery of the wreckage, bird feathers, subsequently identified as those from a turkey vulture, were found wrapped around the fuel filler cap on the inside of the damaged and breached right wing fuel tank. The carcass of a turkey vulture was found floating on the surface of the lake, in the vicinity of the wreckage debris field.

The wreckage was retained for further examination.