Two Fatally Injured When The Ector 305A ‘Bird Dog’ Went Down
The NTSB has released a preliminary report from an accident which occurred February 22, 2020 involving a Cessna Ector 305A “Bird Dog” which was conducting an instruction flight. Two people on board the airplane, a commercial pilot and an airline transport pilot, sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was owned by Honolulu Soaring Club Inc.
The owner of the airplane stated that his company had operated the airplane as a glider tow airplane for about 40 years. On the morning of the accident, he allowed a friend who was a well-known highly experienced tow pilot to provide instructional training to another friend who wanted to be a tow pilot and needed required training. Both pilots flew an instructional flight a week before the accident. The pilot receiving training was seated in the front of the tandem cockpit and the instructor pilot was seated in the rear.
According to multiple witnesses, the airplane took off on runway 8 and completed one lap in the pattern. A witness reported that the first landing was “rough,” and the tail wheel bounced up and down and the airplane came to an abrupt stop on the runway. The engine was shut down on the runway and the rear seated instructor pilot disembarked. He walked around the airplane and then stopped alongside the front seated pilot and talked to him for a while. The instructor pilot then boarded the airplane and the engine was started and the airplane took off again. Witnesses reported that after the airplane cleared the runway surface, the airplane yawed hard right and drifted south toward the tree line. A pilot who witnessed the flight stated that the airplane was “obviously in distress and not in control.” Some witnesses reported the engine sound diminishing as the airplane approached the trees, and then surge again as the airplane flew over the tree line and then the engine sound went quiet. One witness saw the airplane turn right, then rapidly roll left and descend to the ground in a nose low attitude. See below for the observed flight path and impact location.
The wreckage was located in a field of long grass on US Army property about 800 ft south of the runway near an access road. The airplane came to rest slightly nose down, upright on the fuselage in a left wing down attitude heading about 100°. The forward fuselage and left wing leading edge sustained substantial damage. The propeller was separated from the engine and located in a 6 inch depression about 4 ft in front of the wreckage. The fuselage exhibited buckling on the left side mid-section. Fuel leaks were evident at the left wing tank and fuel was present in the right wing fuel tank. All major components were located at the scene.
The airplane was equipped with a Continental O-470 engine. The wreckage has been retained for further examination.
All witnesses interviewed stated that the winds were less than 5 knots from 080° at the time of the accident.
(Images provided by the NTSB)