Aviation safety investigations & reports

Engine failure involving an amateur built Pitts S1S, VH-URP, 6 km south Lethbridge Airport, Victoria on 1 March 2014

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 1 March 2014, the pilot of an amateur built Pitts S1S, registered VH-URP, completed preparations for a world record attempt for the number of continuous rolls, to raise funds for medical research.

Due to low cloud in the area, the pilot elected to delay the initial departure time, and to conduct the aerobatic flight in the local training area about 3 NM from Lethbridge aeroplane landing area (ALA), Victoria.

After successfully completing 987 rolls to the left, at about 2,000 ft above ground level, the pilot elected to return to Lethbridge. About 2 minutes later, when in the cruise, the engine spluttered and lost power. The pilot assumed the aircraft had a partial engine failure, and aimed to return to Lethbridge which was about 1 NM away. He completed the ‘trouble’ checklist, with no success in restoring engine power.

The aircraft was rapidly losing altitude and the pilot selected a paddock for a forced landing. After turning into wind, the aircraft was sinking quickly and the pilot realised it was unlikely to reach the selected paddock. He revised the aiming point for the landing to a closer field. 

During the landing roll, the aircraft collided with a rock and nosed over, coming to rest inverted. The aircraft was substantially damaged. This incident highlights the importance of selecting a suitable landing field as soon as a forced landing appears necessary.


Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 30

Download final report
[Download  PDF: 185KB]
Alternate: [Download  DOCX: 431KB]
General details
Date: 01 March 2014   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 14:00 ESuT   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Lethbridge Airport, south 6 km    
State: Victoria   Occurrence type: Engine failure or malfunction  
Release date: 26 May 2014   Occurrence class: Technical  
Report status: Final   Occurrence category: Accident  
  Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Amateur Built Aircraft  
Aircraft model Pitts  
Aircraft registration VH-URP  
Serial number 1  
Type of operation Sports Aviation  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Substantial  
Departure point Lethbridge, Vic.  
Destination Lethbridge, Vic.  
Last update 14 November 2018