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N538 accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Broadhead, WI
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Tail number N538
Accident date 05 May 2008
Aircraft type Dickenson Bathtub
Additional details: None
No position found

NTSB Factual Report


On May 5, 2008, about 1700 central daylight time, an amateur-built Dickenson Bathtub, N538, was destroyed when it impacted terrain following a loss of control on final approach to land on runway 03 at the Broadhead Airport, Broadhead, Wisconsin. The private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the 14 CFR Part 91 flight. No flight plan was filed. The local flight originated at an unconfirmed time.

A witness reported seeing the airplane during its approach to the airport. He stated that as the airplane made a left turn from the base leg of the approach to the final approach he noticed that the wind was drifting the airplane toward some houses. He stated that he saw the airplane's turn tighten, and then the airplane entered a stall/spin. It subsequently impacted the ground. He estimated that the airplane's altitude was about 300 feet above the ground when it entered the spin. He stated that he heard no engine malfunctions. He stated that the accident flight was the pilot's first flight in the airplane.

Another witness who has been a certified flight instructor since 1982 reported that he believed the accident was the result of a stall/spin. He noted that the engine was running fine and seemed "ok" all the way to the ground.


The pilot, age 77, held a Federal Aviation Administration private pilot certificate with single engine land and sea ratings. He also held a third class medical certificate issued January 31, 2008. The medical certificate listed a limitation that the pilot have glasses available for near vision. FAA records indicate that the pilot had accumulated a total of 1,400 flight hours as of the date of his most recent medical examination. No further pilot flight records were obtained.


The airplane was an amateur-built replica of a 1924 Dormoy Bathtub. It had a single strut braced fabric covered parasol mounted wing. The fuselage consisted of an open pilot enclosure with a single tubular structure running along the bottom of the fuselage and aft to the tail surfaces. Two additional tubular supports ran from the trailing edge of the wing to the top of the vertical tail.


At 1656, the weather conditions at the Monroe Municipal Airport, about 9 miles west of the accident site, were: Wind 260 degrees at 13 knots gusting to 16 knots; visibility 10 miles; scattered clouds at 10,000 feet; temperature 22 degrees Celsius; dew point -4 degrees Celsius; altimeter setting 19.98 inches of mercury.


The Broadhead Airport was a privately owned airport and had 3 turf runways. The runway in use at the time of the accident was Runway 03 which was 1,480 feet long and 100 feet wide.


The airplane came to rest in a nose low position. The aft fuselage tubing structure was bent forward and upward in relation to the fuselage tub. The right wing and right landing gear were crushed rearward. The left wing remained intact. Examination of the airplane did not reveal any pre-existing deficiencies.


An autopsy of the pilot was performed by the University of Wisconsin, School of Medicine. The report stated that the pilot perished as a result of the aircraft collision.

A Final Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report listed Naproxen detected in the pilot's urine.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed during approach, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall.

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