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N4103E accident description

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Crash location 45.025556°N, 91.599444°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city Colfax, WI
44.986350°N, 91.707670°W
5.9 miles away

Tail number N4103E
Accident date 07 Sep 2003
Aircraft type Aeronca 11BC
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On September 7, 2003, at 1510 central daylight time, an Aeronca 11BC, N4103E, collided with terrain following a loss of control while maneuvering in Colfax, Wisconsin. The private pilot was seriously injured and the passenger, a student pilot, was fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The 14 CFR Part 91 local personal flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions without a flight plan. The flight originated from a private airstrip in Colfax, Wisconsin, at an undetermined time.

The passenger's father stated N4103E was kept in a shed on his farm. He stated that he was aware that the pilot (his brother) and his son were going to work on the airplane on the day of the accident. He stated he departed his house at 0930 on the day of the accident and he was not aware of when the pilot and passenger took off. He stated he was at a church picnic and he saw the airplane fly by the picnic around 1230. He stated the airplane was 400 to 500 feet above the ground (agl) and that the engine sounded fine. The doors of the airplane had been removed and were left at his farm.

Another witness who was driving southbound on Highway 40, south of 120th Avenue reported seeing the airplane flying from south to north. The witness reported seeing the airplane make several turns both to the left and right. The witness stated the airplane was at an altitude that was equal to or slightly lower than a barn that it was heading toward. She stated she thought the airplane was going to hit the barn, but it completed a turn to the right and headed east toward Highway 40. The witness stated she rolled down her window and was able to hear the engine speed increase and decrease as the airplane was making the turns. She stated the airplane began losing altitude as it headed east. The airplane then made an abrupt turn and headed north. The witness stated the airplane was low and she thought it was going to land in a field, but it continued up a hill and out of sight.

Another witness located approximately 13 miles south of the accident site reported, "Around 2:30 or 3pm I heard an airplane that sounded as if it shut its engine off for a few seconds then restart it. I looked up and saw a small airplane that appeared to be light greenish yellow (dull) in color coming from the So. West traveling No. East. As I watched the plane, it appeared as if the pilot had shut it off - no sputtering or coughing - let it glide for a few seconds (maybe 3-5) then restarted it when it started to loose [lose] altitude. This happened at least 3 times but I believe it was 4. The plane was approximately 1,000 feet up. When it shut its engines [engine] off it would loose [lose] altitude gradually & then restart. It did not sound as if it were having trouble restarting each time. There was no sputtering or coughing. It sounded like good 'clean' shut offs & restarts."

A watch found in the wreckage was stopped at 1510. The owner of the farm where the accident occurred returned home and noticed the wreckage in the field at 1530.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single engine land rating. The private pilot certificate was issued on January 24, 1976. The pilot also held an airframe and powerplant mechanic certificate which was issued on June 9, 1978.

The pilot held a third class medical certificate which was issued on January 29, 2002. The medical certificate contained the limitation "Must Wear Corrective Lenses." At the time of his last airmen medical, the pilot reported having 1,500 hours of flight time. The pilot's logbook(s) was not located during this investigation.

The passenger held a student pilot certificate that was issued on December 10, 1990.


N4103E, was a 1947-model Aeronca 11BC, s/n 11CC-12. The airplane was a high-wing, fabric covered, single engine aircraft. The airplane was equipped with dual flight controls.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records indicate the airplane was still registered to the previous owner. The previous owner stated he had a bill of sale for the airplane and the current owner, the pilot-in-command, was supposed to have submitted the bill of sale to the FAA. The previous owner submitted a paper signed by both himself and the pilot-in-command which stated "This aircraft was purchased as is, ... with full knowledge that the a/c has been damaged and is totally disassembled. The tail wheel/spring assy is missing. Aircraft N4103E 11BC sn# 11CC-12." This paper was dated February 14, 1997.

The current owner failed to provide any maintenance history of the airplane.


At 1256, the weather recorded at the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport (EAU), Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 16 miles southeast of the accident site, was: Wind 010 degrees at 4 knots; visibility 10 statute miles, sky condition clear; temperature 32 degrees C; dew point 14 degrees C; altimeter 30.05 inches of mercury.


The airplane was located in an open farm field north of 125th Avenue in Colfax, Wisconsin. The airplane came to rest in an approximate 50 degree nose down attitude on a heading of 174 degrees. There were no ground scars that could be associated with the airplane.

The main landing gear remained attached to the fuselage, but they were folded rearward under the fuselage.

The left wing remained attached to the fuselage. Both lift struts were bent up and forward. The leading edge of the wing was buckled along its entire length with the more severe buckling on the outboard half of the wing. The aileron was buckled midspan and the outboard portion of the aileron was pulled away from the wing. The wing spar was broken. The inboard section of the wing, just inboard of the strut attach point, was buckled upward.

The right wing remained attached to the fuselage. The wing was wrinkled at the root and the aileron was intact with little damage. The leading edge of the wingtip was pushed rearward. The underside of the wing from the tip to the forward wing attach point was buckled rearward. Both wing lift struts were intact.

The right rear upper cross tube on the fuselage frame was fractured. The forward right cross tube was bent inward toward the cockpit. The aft fuselage was bent to the left and the right wing was pulled away from the fuselage. The lower portion of the cockpit was buckled outward.

Fuel blight was present under the left wing and in an area extended out approximately 20 feet in front of the wreckage. The rear fuel tank (capacity 8 gallons) did contain fuel. The front fuel tank was ruptured.

Continuity of all the flight control cables was established. The control yoke on the right side was fractured at the base and the left control yoke was bent at the base. Control yoke interconnect was broken.

The carburetor heat was in the off position as was the side panel fuel selector. The primer was out and loose, the throttle was extended approximately one inch. The magnetos were in the off position. The fuel control on the instrument panel was pulled out.

The propeller flange was bent to the left. The portion of the spinner that was on the left side of the aircraft was crushed. One propeller bolt was sheared where the propeller had pulled away from the flange and the other bolts were bent. One propeller blade was embedded in the field. One propeller blade was bent rearward and the other blade was twisted.

The engine and instrument panel were pushed back into the cockpit.

The propeller was removed from the engine by cutting all the propeller bolts. Vegetation was found in the intake air box. The upper spark plugs were removed. All appeared slightly worn with no unusual discoloration. The propeller shaft was rotated. Compression was achieved on all cylinders and valve movement was confirmed.

Both the left and right magnetos sparked on all leads when the propeller was rotated. The carburetor was removed. Fuel was present in the carburetor bowl. The color and odor of the fuel was consistent with automotive fuel.


An autopsy on the passenger was performed by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office, at the Ramsey County Medical Center, St. Paul, Minnesota, on September 8, 2003.


A party to the investigation was the Federal Aviation Administration.

The aircraft wreckage was released to the Chippewa County Sheriff's Department on September 8, 2003.

(c) 2009-2018 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.