Homebuilt Loses Prop, Pilot Keeps Cool


David Reser was test-flying his Thatcher CX-4 homebuilt last week in Southern California when the propeller departed the airplane. Fearing that he would end up in somebody’s back yard, Reser dove for the runway at Cable (KCCB) with a bit too much energy and no drag benefit from a windmilling prop. Floating past the end of the runway, Reser attempted to ground loop before finally running out of airspeed and contacting an earthen berm. He walked away from the homebuilt with minor injuries. A television news helicopter happened to be nearby and caught the landing for posterity. Reser describes the last few moments of his flight in the video below.


  1. There are two things that get my attention here.
    [1] – Its amazing how survivable a crash is in the short distance this aircraft came to a stop. Sure, a lot of the energy was dissipated bending each wing and the cabin stays intact but still surprising to see (at least for me).
    [2] – The last thing I want to do is to be armchair quarterback this video, but I was hoping to get some feedback. Although we can’t see some very important details, could the pilot possibly have put it on the runway cross controlling the aircraft and inducing more drag…
    Other than that, he survived and therefore did everything right!!! Love to see “happy lendings!”

  2. If this Thatcher was powered by a VW-based engine, a loss of power likely would not have resulted in a windmilling prop. Very often, a VW just stops spinning, so not much additional drag compared to a windmilling prop, so the pilot would have faced almost the same options with a loss of available power, prop or not. He made the right choice and survived to fly another day, which is the important thing!