Accident #1.3: Kolb Firestar, 1-11-21, Vineland, NJ
Unusual final leading to a 45 degree nose down
NTSB accident # ERA21LA102
Written in the report, “According to a witness, he and the accident pilot flew (in separate airplanes) from the witness’ residence to Vineland-Downstown Airport (28N), Vineland, New Jersey, about 7 miles away. After landing, the accident pilot told the witness that he wanted to fly over a friend’s house in the local area. The accident pilot boarded the airplane, took off from runway 20, and flew a traffic pattern around the airport. The airplane remained in view the entire flight. The airplane turned from a base leg to final at an altitude of 400-500 ft, and “seemed to be at normal cruising speed of 80 mph.” While on final, the airplane appeared to be “significantly” to the right of the runway 20 extended centerline, with the wings straight and level. The airplane began a gradual descent, followed by a “steep 45° nose down pitch into the trees.” The airplane appeared to be at “cruising speed” and did not appear to stall. The engine was “operating normally and no indication of sputtering or engine failure of any kind”.
According to this article, the pilot was 64 year old Gerard Asselta, a private pilot. He only had about 3-4 hours in the aircraft, which is described as an ultralight, but didn’t fit the parameters of an ultralight.
Opinion: I believe the pilot had a medical emergency, and was trying to get back to the field. The 45 degree nose down pitch could have been him losing the battle with consciousness, and depending on which this aircraft has, yoke or stick, pushing it forward. What was the cause of the medical emergency?
If you know any details that you would like to provide anonymously to help this investigation, please email FFaccidentinvestigations@protonmail.com
*disclaimer: this blog and it’s author is not part of any official investigations. The views of the author does not reflect their employer, union, or any organizations they’re a part of. Any opinions by the author are theirs alone.*