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Tue, Apr 04, 2006

Aviation Writer Injured in LSA Accident

Dan Johnson Suffers Back Injury In Take-Off Accident

A Lakeland bound LSA went down in Southern Florida Tuesday after a takeoff went awry. The departure reportedly fell victim to a lack of power from the four-stroke Rotax engine.

Aviation writer Dan Johnson, who had flown the aircraft previously, was enroute to Lakeland FL, for a Fly-In, from South Florida's Naked Lady Ranch when he went down at the side of the runway in small trees and brush. Johnson suffered serious back injuries, including a compression fracture, and is scheduled for surgery Wednesday morning to repair the damage, though the prognosis is postive for a full recovery.

No control difficulties or other issues appear to have contributed to the accident. The aircraft involved, a Czech Aircraft Works (CZAW) Parrot, had approximately 120 hours of time in service.

ANN spoke to CZAW Parrot Manufacturer, Chip Erwin, a witness to the accident, about the situation and Johnson's unfortunate injury. Chip reported that the aircraft failed to make power on takeoff, a fact reportedly confirmed to him by Johnson, developing only 4000 RPM or so on the Rotax 912 (where revs well above 5K are considered minimum). Despite the lack of take-off power (audible to those on the ground in the immediate area), Johnson attempted to continue the flight, continuing most of the length of the runway, before attempting a partial turn attempt to line up with a crosswind runway -- a decision that was apparently aborted after nearly 90 degrees of turn was completed.

Attempting to turn back, the Parrot, a two-place high-wing Certified LSA, settled into small trees and brush at the side of the runway, injuring Johnson and pretty much destroying the aircraft. Erwin noted that the airframe remained fairly well intact throughout the accident, but that the attendant sink rate contributed significantly to the damage suffered by Johnson.

Erwin and others rendered aid at the scene, and kept Johnson hydrated until medical help arrived, whereupon Johnson was treated for transport and moved to a St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach, FL.

The CZAW Parrot is a fairly new LSA. The all-metal Parrot utilizes a fully-cantilevered metal wing, with surprisingly curvy fuselage, a forward-hinged canopy, and a 530 pound payload. The aircraft is powered by a  single Rotax 912 ULS, offering 100HP.

ANN wishes Dan a speedy recovery, cute nurses, and a quick return to flight status.

FMI: www.airplane.cz

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