Flying Car Crash Cause Determined

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Some tangled parachute lines, a seriously aft C of G and some kind of air turbulence ganged up on a Maverick flying car to send it spiraling into a schoolyard in western Canada in early May. Canada's Transportation Safety Board turned over the investigation to the manufacturer of the aircraft, ITEC, to come up with the cause and the company's COO Troy Townsend traveled to Kelowna, British Columbia, a week later to conduct the probe. By analyzing video from two GoPro cameras onboard the aircraft, plus video shot from the ground by AVweb and airport surveillance camera video, Townsend and pilot Ray Siebring determined at least three independent factors contributed to the stall/spin that ended with the Maverick spinning from an altitude of about 500 feet into the playground fence of a school in Vernon, B.C., on May 10. "Any one of those factors wasn't enough to bring the aircraft down but they all added up together," said Townsend, who has hundreds of hours on the vehicle, which is really just a large powered parachute with a street-legal car as its payload.

Townsend and Siebring determined that when Siebring was setting up the Maverick for flight, he used an incorrect table to set the position of the steel arms that suspend the vehicle from the canopy and the center of gravity ended up well aft. Also, at some point during taxi, some of the lines on the left side of the wing tangled, creating a "pressure knot" that distorted the wing and made it want to turn left. Siebring countered with right trim and that essentially put the wing in the landing configuration. The final straw may have been wake turbulence from a Cessna 182 that landed just before the Maverick took off or it could have been air settling from a nearby ridge. Whatever it was, it caused the left side of the wing to stall and sent the aircraft into the spin. Neither Siebring nor his passenger, his uncle Ed Haasdyk, was seriously injured. The chassis of the car was totaled but most of the parts can be reused.