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Sat, Jan 28, 2012

NTSB Prelim Released In L39 Fatal Accident

Flight Appeared To Be Routine From Witness Reports, ATC Transcripts

The NTSB's preliminary report for an accident involving an L39 Albatros indicates the flight appeared to be fairly routine. The pilot, who according to media reports was qualified both for the airplane and flight in IFR conditions, did not give any indication anything was wrong with the aircraft before it went down very shortly after takeoff from Northeast Alabama Regional Airport (KGAD), in Gadsden, Alabama.

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA149
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, January 20, 2012 in Rainbow City, AL
Aircraft: AERO VODOCHODY L39C, registration: N16RZ
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On January 20, 2012, at 1818 central standard time, an experimental exhibition, Aero Vodochody L39C airplane, N16RZ, collided with trees while maneuvering in the vicinity of Rainbow City, Alabama. The airplane was registered to Fighter Town USA LLC, and was operated by a private individual as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The airplane sustained substantial damage and a post crash fire ensued. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The certificated airline transport pilot was fatally injured. The flight departed from Northeast Alabama Regional Airport (GAD), Gadsden, Alabama, at about 1817 en-route to Burlington, North Carolina.
 
A witness stated the pilot arrived at a maintenance facility to pick up the airplane in the afternoon. He conducted a prefight inspection in the hangar and the airplane was towed outside. The pilot performed before start engine checks, started the engine, and taxied to runway 24 in preparation for takeoff. He conducted an engine run up and departed. The witness walked back inside the hangar and heard two loud explosions. An employee from the fixed base operator came by and stated the airplane had crashed in a wooded area off the departure end of runway 24.

The pilot called the FAA Birmingham Approach Control at 1815 via radio while on the ground at GAD and requested his IFR clearance. The controller asked what runway he would be departing from and the pilot replied runway 24. The controller issued the clearance at 18:16:31. The clearance required the pilot to enter controlled airspace on a heading of 140-degrees to climb and maintain 5,000 feet and to expect flight level 190 within ten minutes after departure, and then on course when radar identified. The pilot read back the clearance and was informed he was released for departure and to switch to advisory frequency. There was no further radio contact between the controllers and the pilot.

Another pilot, on the ground at GAD, waiting to depart, called Birmingham Approach and asked if they had picked up the accident airplane on radar. He informed the controller he watched the flight depart and heard a pretty loud boom shortly afterwards. The pilot also reported the airport was below weather minimums.

Another witness who lives in front of the accident site stated her mother in law called her while she was out at a restaurant and asked her if something had blown up at her house. She informed her mother in law that she was not home. She immediately left the restaurant and went home. Police and fire personnel were there and were putting out a fire in the woods behind her house. It was difficult to see the emergency responders due to the dense fog.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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