Bank Angle Increased And The Nose Of The Airplane “Was Almost Pointed Down Toward The Ground”

Location: Janesville, WI Accident Number: CEN21FA130
Date & Time: February 16, 2021, 09:17 Local Registration: N13VT
Aircraft: Velocity VTwin Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Ferry

On February 16, 2021, about 0917 central standard time (CST), a Velocity VTwin experimental amateur built airplane, N13VT, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Janesville, Wisconsin. Both pilots sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 ferry flight.

The airplane had departed the Appleton International Airport (ATW), Appleton, Wisconsin, about 0634 destined for the southern Wisconsin Regional Airport (JVL), arriving about 0715. Fuel records obtained from the fixed base operator (FBO) showed the service order slip requested the fuel tanks be topped off with 100LL fuel. The fuel slip and receipt reflected the addition of 53.5 gallons of 100LL and the receipt was signed by one of the pilots at 0852.

A review of automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) data showed the airplane departed runway 32 at JVL about 0912. The flight was destined for Sebastian, Florida, for maintenance to be accomplished on the landing gear system and was operated in accordance with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued Special Flight Permit. While standard limitations of the permit stipulated that occupancy was “limited to the pilot, essential crew required to operate the aircraft and its equipment and personal baggage,” additional limitations were added which stated “gear to remain down during flight, co-pilot authorized,” even though the airplane only required one flight crewmember.

According to archived air traffic control (ATC) recordings, about one minute and sixteen seconds after the takeoff clearance was issued, and after the airplane had departed, one of the pilots stated that they would like to circle back and land runway 32 and “work through some engine issues.” ATC acknowledged the request, asked the pilot to report turning onto final for runway 32 and asked if any assistance was required. The pilot replied “no sir, we should be fine.” No further radio communications were received from the accident airplane.

About 0917, the airplane impacted trees and came to rest inverted in a 3ft deep tributary of the Rock River about 1 mile south of JVL and sustained substantial damage to both wings, both canards, and the fuselage. Both fuel tanks were breached and a strong odor, consistent with 100LL aviation fuel, was present at the accident site.

The air traffic controller on duty saw the airplane south of the airport just prior to impact. He stated that when the airplane was just beyond the trees, he saw it begin to circle left. About ½ way through the circle, the bank angle increased and the nose of the airplane “was almost pointed down toward the ground.”

A witness who was outside of his house about ½ mile north of the accident location stated that he heard the airplane and described the sound of the engine as a “loud roar.” When he looked up, he observed the airplane about 150 – 200ft above the trees at an estimated 80° nose down pitch attitude. He said that after the airplane went behind the trees, the engine noise ceased.

The airplane was equipped with two Continental Titan IOX-370 series engines. Detailed wreckage and engine examinations are pending.