Airplane Then Began To Roll Inverted While Diving Diagonally Into The Ground

Location: Temecula, CA Accident Number: WPR22FA048
Date & Time: November 23, 2021, 10:32 Local Registration: N601KS
Aircraft: Zenith Zodiac CH601XL Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On November 23, 2021, about 1032, an experimental amateur-built Zenith Zodiac 601XL, N601KS, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident in Temecula, California. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

A witness, who was located in the front yard of a residence, in a new housing development, about 3 miles southeast of French Valley Airport, reported hearing a loud bang, and then looking overhead to see an airplane flying in a northwest direction. The airplane then began to roll inverted while diving diagonally into the ground. After the airplane impacted, debris started falling from the sky almost directly above her.

Multiple other witnesses within the area of the housing development recounted similar observations of hearing a loud booming sound followed by observing an airplane dive toward the ground while debris fell from it.

The airplane came to rest nose down in a field, about 250 ft north of the housing development. The airframe was compressed aft, such that the engine and firewall were in line with the trailing edge of the wings. Both wings sustained crush damage through to the aft spar, both fuel tanks had been breached, and the smell of fuel was present in the soil surrounding the site. A 70-ft-long debris field consisting of fragments of canopy plexiglass material, shards of aluminum, and fragments of flight instruments, emanated from the main wreckage west. The pilots flight bag, a sun visor, and a fuel sump jar were located about 400 ft east of the main wreckage, and an iPad was located about halfway between.