This Report was compiled from information gleaned from sheriff reports and interviews of eyewitnesses. It also contains information received from pilots who knew and flew with Tony.
PPG accident 18 May 2019 Arcadia, FL
This was 61 year old Tony Littell who passed away in a PPG accident on the 18th morning of May 2019. Tony received initial instruction from USPPA instructor Joe Onofrio between July – September 2016. Tony was signed off to take the USPPA written test though never did. A few weeks later Joe and Tony met. Joe discovered that Tony had been flying on his own. Tony decided not to continue with USPPA training, Instead he self trained.
Bob Harrison a local PPG pilot collected information from another PPG pilot, who arrived minutes after the accident. The other PPG pilot also flew that day in the same area without knowledge of Tony’s flight. He new of but had never flown with Tony. Bob had also collected information from a non-PPG pilot who was an eyewitness to the accident and first on scene.
This is what I assume:
Tony was flying straight and level between 200-300 feet AGL when the left side of the paraglider let go completely. This initiated a high speed vertical descent as noted in the picture showing heavy left side impact damage compared to minimal damage on the right. This supports a rapid descent corroborating the left side of the paraglider released.
I believe the power lines were missed. With only a few seconds before ground impact, Tony removed his reserve and started a toss. You can identify and see in the picture the reserve separate from the paraglider. The PPG pilot that arrived on scene minutes after the accident mentioned the reserve container was about twenty feet away from the paramotor.
I receive a comment from a USPPA instructor who flies a similar unit. He mentioned to Tony over a year ago that the risers were showing excessive wear and should be replaced. He also thought there might be a burr on the CG ring. Another USPPA instructor who flies a similar unit says he found no wear after checking four other wings that had been flown extensively with his unit. Therefore we believe the area causing abrasion had been repaired. It was also known that Tony learned to weld and his machine needed a few repairs since he began flying. Tony had recently ordered new risers which had not been received prior to the incident.
The equipment was impounded by the local Sheriff department and the FAA was contacted for inspection. The FAA said they were not sending anyone to inspect. Instead requesting specific photos to be taken. The sheriff department would not let anyone other than family retrieve or view the equipment. The photos were given only to the FAA and an NTSB Safety Investigator. They were asked and refused to view or share the accident photos. Visual inspection is the best method.
We made contact with the family the day of or after the accident and initially given hope to a visual inspection which turned into a delay which turned into a refusal within a weeks time.
Unfortunately the cause of this accident cannot be determined conclusively because the equipment was impounded and destroyed without a visual inspection, at the insistence of the family. I feel confident if the unit is maintained in its purchased configuration it is a safe PPG.
Things we did not get to visually inspect.
1. Paraglider lines pulled apart A/B/C/D
2. Riser mallions
3. Riser itself
4. Riser loop
5. Carabiner or Turnbuckle bolt backed out?
6. Carabiner attached point
7. Paraglider connection point
9. Weld point
10. Reserve lines pulled apart
11. Reserve attach point
12. Reserve riser or lines pulled apart