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N71314 accident description

Minnesota map... Minnesota list
Crash location 47.496111°N, 94.952778°W
Nearest city Bemidji, MN
47.442453°N, 94.861666°W
5.6 miles away
Tail number N71314
Accident date 27 Aug 2012
Aircraft type Top Dog TD2
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On August 27, 2012, about 1847 central daylight time, an experimental weight-shift-control Top Dog TD2 (trike) aircraft, N71314, impacted terrain while landing at the Moberg Air Base Airport (MN13), near Bemidji, Minnesota. The private pilot was fatally injured and the passenger was seriously injured. The aircraft sustained substantial structural damage. The aircraft was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Day visual flight rules (VFR) conditions prevailed for the flight, which did not operate on a VFR flight plan. The local flight originated from MN13.

The passenger, who had previously taken flying lessons, saw that the pilot was giving rides “on his recently acquired trike” over Grassy Lake. He accepted a flight from the pilot. The passenger’s statement, in part, said:

We were coming from the lake and were traveling perpendicular

to the runway. As we cleared a group of trees located on the

East side of the runway about mid-way on the strip, he

immediately banked hard to the right and start[ed] turning to

the North, he also established a steep descent angle as he

entered his final approach. The steep nose down approach and

right bank angle never changed and we appeared to fly straight

into the ground. I do not recall [the pilot] struggling to

maintain or regain control or giving any other indication of a

problem. I never heard him say anything or attempt to

communicate with me in any way.

I never lost consciousness and ended up hanging upside down

from the seat. ... I never observed any indication of a

malfunction of the power plant or flight controls.

Witnesses saw the aircraft bank prior to landing. One witness stated that the aircraft “came in a little sharp.” Another witness indicated that prior to impact, it was a “normal sounding landing” and he confirmed that it “didn't sound like the engine was having trouble.”


The 49-year-old pilot held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) private pilot license with an airplane single engine land rating. This pilot held a FAA third class medical certificate, with no limitations, dated December 10, 2010. On the application for that medical certificate, he reported that he had accumulated 170 hours of total flight time and 25 hours of flight time in the prior six months.

The pilot’s records were brought to a FAA inspector for review. According to the inspector, the pilot appeared to have approximately 170 hours in a weight-shift-control aircraft, of which approximately 150 hours were before December of 2011. Before acquiring his weight-shift-control aircraft, the pilot had not operated a weight-shift-control aircraft since April 2012. Within the last year, he had approximately 20 hours in a weight-shift-control aircraft and approximately 96 hours in tricycle gear aircraft. Before the accident, the pilot had about 2 hours in the accident aircraft. There did not appear to be any type of transition training between this aircraft and the certificated tricycle gear aircraft that he had been operating for most of his flight hours over the last year.

The passenger held a FAA third class medical certificate, with limitations for wearing corrective lenses, dated October 27, 2010. On the application for that medical certificate, the passenger reported that he had accumulated 10 hours of total flight time and 10 hours of flight time in the prior six months.


According to FAA airworthiness records, N71314 was an experimental weight-shift-control Top Dog TD2 (trike) aircraft, with serial number 9318. The airplane was powered by a Rotax 582DCDI engine, which drove a 62-inch, ground adjustable, propeller. The wing was reported to be a Gibbo Gear model known as Big Butterfly. The aircraft had a reported empty weight of 452 pounds and a maximum gross weight of 950 pounds. A FAA registration bill of sale form 8050-2 indicated that the pilot purchased this aircraft on August 18, 2012.


At 1855, the recorded weather at the Bemidji Regional Airport, near Bemidji, Minnesota, was: Wind 020 degrees at 4 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition clear; temperature 23 degrees C; dew point 9 degrees C; altimeter 30.11 inches of mercury.


MN13 was a private, non-towered airport located about 3 miles west of the city at an elevation of 1,373 feet. It was served by a 2,263 foot by 150 foot turf runway orientated on northwest and southeast headings.


A FAA inspector examined and took pictures of the wreckage. The postaccident examination and a review of the images did not reveal any mechanical issues or anomalies with the aircraft that would have precluded normal operations.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Sanford Bemidji Medical Center on August 28, 2012. The cause of death was listed as exsanguination due to traumatic laceration of the thoracic aorta.

The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute prepared a Final Forensic Toxicology Accident Report. The report was negative for the tests performed.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control and his inadequate flare during landing. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to obtain training on the operation of the accident aircraft.

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