Canopy Departs Its Mounts As L39 Albatros Departs From AirVenture


The front canopy of a civilian-operated Aerovodochody L39 Albatros single-engine jet separated from its moorings on takeoff from Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on departure from EAA AirVenture. The pilot and sole occupant of the two-seat jet was apparently uninjured and is shown on the accompanying video making a safe landing after returning to the airport.

The video was captured by occupants of an aircraft waiting in line for departure from the show and posted on YouTube yesterday (July 31). According to reports, the canopy landed on the runway and was sufficiently undamaged that the aircraft was able to leave later the same day.

An internet search also turned up this video of a similar situation posted nine years ago.

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. Reminded me of the day over 45 years ago now, when the partial sliding canopy departed the Ercoupe 415C/D I was flying, on climb out from TEB, which landed on Rt 46. Fortunately no one injured, no property damage other than a big bill $ at Univair for a replacement.

  2. Wow! Suddenly he’s flying an open cockpit jet. Glad he landed safely and that canopy must be made of surefire tough material to be re-installed and then the aircraft being able to depart later that day.

  3. Same thing happened at KMIV a bunch of years back. Not too long after that, same airplane crashed and two folks died.

  4. That’s what killed Michael Chowdry at Front Range around 20 years back. I new him personally and flew for Atlas. He was a good pilot but may have been injured. Regardless, he and the NYT aviation editor died in the accident. He and I talked quite a bit about the L-39 as it flew a lot like the T-38 we used in UPT.

    • Yeah, not the memory I had of him. ‘My way or the highway’, didn’t listen to pros, like a lot of rich a**holes who buy their way into airplanes they have no business flying, thought that his money made him ‘way better than he was.

      And it killed his ass. Good riddance, Atlas did better without that glorified used car salesman running the show. Hope Connie Kalitta is next.

  5. Any L-39 drivers/owners care to comment why this would happen? Canopy not properly latched? It seems that airspeed increases the canopy, with the camber of an airfoil, is creating lift. The only experience I can correlate it with is glider canopies. Glider pilots typically check that their canopy is locked by pushing up with the back of their hands (to avoid fingerprints) or on the frame, due to a history of canopies not being properly latched and opening during flight.

  6. 2013:
    FAA Issues SAFO For L-39 Canopies
    Possible In-Flight Separation Prompts This Safety Alert
    The FAA has released a Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) directed to owners, operators, repair stations, and mechanics holding Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certificates, concerning service difficulties and safety issues associated with the Aero Vodochody L-39C and L-39ZA variants. According to the agency, aircrews have experienced one or both canopies separating from the aircraft, or partially opening, while in-flight.
    These instances have occurred with a CANOPY LOCKED indication from the aircraft’s annunciator panel warning light. Analyses of these events show a potential for a false indication from the canopy unlock light. Some of the possible causes for this problem include misalignment of the microswitches sensing the canopy position; failure of the latches on the right side of the canopy to fully engage, possibly caused by a physical obstruction or foreign object interfering with the latches; the canopy hold-open bar becoming distorted and obstructing the right-side canopy latches; and the canopy latches becoming misaligned, subject to wear, corrosion, faulty components, or improper maintenance.
    It is advised that the actions below be accomplished every 100 hours of flight time, or as incorporated into the aircraft’s inspection program:
    Inspect the micro switches in the front and rear canopy lock mechanism and make sure they are functioning and aligned per instructions in the Aero Vodochody factory maintenance manual. Perform these checks with the canopy both installed and removed.
    Inspect the canopy for any foreign objects which may interfere with the right-side latching mechanism.
    Inspect the condition of the hold-open bars at the front and rear canopies. The bars are located on the right rear portion of the front canopy or on the right front section of the rear canopy. They should not be bent, distorted, or otherwise damaged.
    With the canopy removed, inspect the canopy latches and verify the latches are holding and the springs are tight per procedures in the Aero Vodochody factory maintenance manual.
    Place placards in view of front and rear seat occupants asking them to ensure that the canopy is secure prior to flight.
    Amend the aircraft checklist to include checking of the canopy to ensure that it is secure.
    The FAA says that owners, operators, repair stations, and mechanics that operate and maintain Aero Vodochody L-39C and L-39ZA airplanes should familiarize themselves with the information found in this SAFO, and in the associated Airworthiness Certification job aid.