No Cause Cited in 2009 Fatal Air Crash Report
A report detailing an experimental plane crash that claimed the life of its pilot a little more than a year ago after it crashed into an Ocala, Fla. RV park has been released by the National Transportation Safety Board. It does not, however, provide an actual cause of the crash, according to the Ocala Star-Banner.
The nine-page report, released April 15, includes 4 1/2 pages of flight history, personal information, weather reports and other factors leading up to the crash. It indicates that several witnesses, including a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, noted the engine was “sputtering” or making unusual noises, and that the engine was “not operating.”
Officials say John A. Hambleton, 80, the pilot and owner of the experimental, amateur-built, Stewart S51 plane, did a test flight the day prior to the March 6, 2009, crash.
Hambleton told his wife the test flight was “beautiful” and notes suggested he was in the air for “0.3 hours.”
Federal Aviation Administration records show that Hambleton had an airline transportation certificate with an airplane multi-engine rating, along with several other ratings. He also had a flight instructor certificate with airplane single engine rating and a mechanic certificate with airframe and powerplant ratings.
Officials say Hambleton had approximately 13,980 hours of flight experience.
Hambleton died when the plane crashed into the Wild Frontier RV Park off County Road 25. It landed between two unoccupied recreational vehicles and burst into flames. Wreckage spewed into a wooded area separated from the park by a chain link fence.
Several people told investigators the plane “banked sharply in order to avoid a cellphone tower.” The airplane, authorities say, was owned by two other people before Hambleton. The first owner purchased the kit, but never completed it. The second owner bought the partially assembled kit and intended to race the finished aircraft. Because it was not “fast enough,” the owner sold it to Hambleton six years before the crash.
When Hambleton received the disassembled plane, his wife told authorities, he was “not in a rush to complete and fly the airplane” because he “had several other airplanes” that he flew regularly.
People who knew Hambleton described him as “meticulous.”