FORT MILL, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A report released by the National Transportation Safety Board sheds light on the forced plane landing in the Catawba River in early May.
The preliminary report states the landing involved an Aeronca 7DC-CONV plane and it landed in the river Friday morning, May 5, 2023, in the area of Fort Mill.
The private pilot and pilot-rated passenger were not injured in the river landing. According to the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, the two pilots, identified as Kyle Stubbs and his passenger, Matthew McFaden, flew together often and had rented the small aircraft from a flying school that Stubbs attended, Aerowood Aviation out of Monroe, North Carolina.
Following the incident, the NTSB stated that Stubbs described a “normal” preflight inspection, engine start, run-up, taxi, departure, and climb to about 2,000 ft mean sea level.
Stubbs told authorities they had taken off from Monroe and were headed to Lancaster when “the engine failed.”
Because of radio and airplane traffic at the destination airport, Stubbs said he amended his destination and decided to descend and “follow the Catawba River.”
Once at his desired altitude, Stubbs leveled the airplane, “…applied power and there was no thrust.” The report states that Stubbs adjusted the throttle, the mixture, “pulled the carb heat,” and cycled the magnetos without a change in engine speed.
The engine continued to run at 1,000 rpm, the report states.
The airplane touched down in shallow water, nosed over, and came to rest inverted, the report states. Both the pilot and passenger were unharmed in the forced landing.
“Examination of the airplane at the site revealed damage to the wing attachment points and their associated attachment bolts. During recovery of the airplane, control continuity was established from the flight controls to all flight control surfaces,” the report states.
Stubbs held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. His most recent first-class FAA medical certificate was issued in July 2022.
Stubbs reported 124 total hours of flight experience, 14 hours of which were in the accident airplane make and model, the NTSB report showed.
The airplane was recovered from the Catawba River and taken to the operator’s facility and prepared for an engine test run. During the test run, it was discovered that the fuel line that ran between the fuel selector valve and the firewall beneath the instrument panel was fractured due to overstress, the NTSB preliminary report states.
According to the FAA’s Carburetor Icing Probability Chart, the atmospheric conditions reported by the pilot at the point of departure were conducive to “Icing.” Atmospheric conditions reported 10 miles west of the accident site at the time were the same, the report states.
In both his interview and his written statement to NTSB, Stubbs stated he applied carburetor heat only after detecting the loss of engine power.