Diamond Twin Star Overturned by 54-Knot Gusts; One Killed


A freak microburst at Orlando Executive Airport (KORL) overturned a Diamond DA42 Twin Star on Thursday evening, Sept. 1, killing one of the two on board. Another parked aircraft also overturned.

The DA42 was holding short of Runway 7 when the storm hit the airport. Several observers, including pilots of other aircraft and air traffic controllers, said they were surprised by how quickly the severe winds arrived. Peak gusts reached 54 knots at the time of the tragedy.

Weather observations at ORL were recorded as: KORL 012108Z VRB05G49KT 1/4SM R07/0400V6000FT TSRA BKN016 BKN029 OVC040 26/19A2995 RMK AO2 PK WND 12054/2055 WSHFT 2048 LTG DSNT ALQDS P0067 T0256018.

Reports suggest that a student pilot and flight instructor were on board, and the instructor was injured, but survived. The nature of the fatal injuries sustained by the victim, later identified by the Orlando Fire Department as Alfa Ekele, were not immediately made clear.

Judith-Ann Jarrette, director of the Orlando Executive Airport, told local news outlets, “The [Twin Star] had taxied out, and it was going to be departing on our main runway, Runway 7, and in the severe weather, the wind flipped the aircraft upside down.”

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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. I hope the NTSB and Diamond fully evaluate the survivability (or in this case non-survivability) aspects of this occurrence. A stationary aircraft of recent design, flipped over, should be survivable with little or no damage to the occupants. Were they appropriately restrained? Was there intrusion of any outside object into the pilot/passenger area, causing injury? Did the roll bar (in the case of Diamond designs located behind the front seat area) appropriately protect the pilots? A sad occurrence, for sure.

  2. When I worked at ORD, a Barron arrived at night. While taxing in, he taxied behind a B747 who had just begun a maintenance runup. It flipped the Barron killing the pilot. Our only fatality during my years there. I was surprised then that it just flipping could have killed him.

  3. From Kathryn’s Report:

    AnonymousTuesday, September 6, 2022 at 10:51:00 AM EDT
    They didn’t anticipate or intended to beat the rapidly developing buildup when the taxi began at 20:43Z (as captured in Adsbexchange track of taxi, linked at end of this comment).

    Taxi was underway at 2043Z, with this 2041Z report:
    KORL 012041Z 15011G16KT 110V180 10SM TS SCT041 BKN060 BKN095 32/23 A2994 RMK AO2 LTG DSNT ALQDS TSB35 T03170233

    They stopped movement on the taxiway at 2045Z. Then:
    KORL 012053Z 12029G38KT 2 1/2SM R07/5500VP6000FT TSRA FEW020 BKN039 OVC060 27/22 A2995 RMK AO2 PK WND 11038/2053 LTG DSNT ALQDS RAB51 TSB35 SLP142 P0009 60009 T02670222 55019

    KORL 012057Z 10043G54KT 1/2SM R07/2600VP6000FT +TSRA SCT022 BKN039 OVC060 24/21 A3002 RMK AO2 PK WND 12054/2055 LTG DSNT ALQDS PRESRR P0015 T02440211

    Last ADS-B data point captured was 20:57:14Z.

    Capture of the taxi track: