The 80+ year old pilot was observed to take off in the Belite Superlite, barely gaining enough altitude to clear a fence. Apparently, the pilot did not command the airplane to turn in any direction, climb, or descend back to the ground, which was just a few feet below him. Nor did he retard the throttle, which was reported at 'full' by an observer. (The Superlite is capable of climbing out at fairly steep angles.)
After continuing in this manner for a handful of seconds, he crashed into the side of a distant steel building, still under full power, still just a few feet above the ground. I have not seen the accident in person, but I do have one photograph. It seems to show a very hard impact of the left wing tip, then impact of the main structure of the fuselage. The wing ribs and spars are carbon fiber, and the fuselage is chromaloy steel -- all very tough stuff.
The pilot was wearing his seat belt / shoulder harness, and escaped the accident with broken ribs. The cabin structure of the Belite, along with the safety harness, probably saved his life.
The metal gas can did not rupture. (It is optional equipment.) The parachute did deploy at impact (probably due to stretching of the release cable in the accident.)
We are very saddened by this accident and wish the pilot a speedy and full recovery.
|Belite Ultralight Aircraft Accident|