The Airplane Never Became Airborne, And Instead Veered Left

Location: Oak Hill, FL Accident Number: ERA23FA060
Date & Time: November 15, 2022, 15:30 Local Registration: N4307Q
Aircraft: Detrick Donald G Detrick DA2 Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On November 15, 2022, at 1530 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built DA-2 airplane, N4307Q, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Oak Hill, Florida. The student pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

A witness, who was the seller of the accident airplane stated that he purchased the airplane 2 years before, and that he had only about 3 hours of flight experience in the airplane. He further stated that the airplane’s flight controls were “very sensitive”. On the morning of the accident, he sold the airplane to the accident pilot. He said he asked the pilot if he had any tailwheel flight experience, and the pilot stated that he had some “in a champ.” The seller told the pilot that he should taxi the airplane up and down the runway a couple times to get familiar with it before he departed for his home airport. He heard the pilot taxi a couple times and then he heard the airplane power up to full power, and shortly after he heard the airplane hit a tree but did not see the airplane going down the runway or collide with the tree. 

Other witnesses, who lived near the airport, reported seeing the accident airplane taxi up and down the runway several times, followed by a takeoff attempt at full engine power; however, the airplane never became airborne, and instead veered left, departed the runway, and struck a tree.

The accident site was located 150 ft to the left side of runway 17 (midfield), at Blue Ridge Flightpark (34FD), Oakhill, Florida. Skid marks about 150 yards in length were consistent with the witness descriptions that the airplane veered left during the takeoff. The impression marks left in the soil by the tail wheel were outside and to the right of the impressions made by both main landing gear tires, consistent with the airplane in a skid to the left. The airplane impacted a tree with the right wing, where the wing attached to the fuselage. Both wings were separated from the fuselage and were lying beside it. The right wing was crushed by the tree. The tail section was unremarkable. Flight control continuity was established to all primary flight controls. The canopy was fractured into several pieces.

The engine, propeller, fuel tank, instrument panel, and throttle quadrant separated from the fuselage and rolled about 10 ft away from the main wreckage. The fuel tank was breached and only a small amount of fuel remained in the tank. The throttle and mixture controls moved smoothly. There were tree impression marks and tree bark on the No. 3 cylinder, no other damage noted on the engine. The propeller was made of wood and one blade fractured off near the hub. The spinner dome was unremarkable.

The pilot held a student pilot certificate, was 74 years old, and reported 70 total hours of flight experience on his last Federal Aviation Administration medical certificate application dated April 2018. The student pilot applied for basic medical in January 2022. The pilot’s logbook was not recovered and no determination could be made about any recent or total flight experience.