A little after 9 o’clock in the morning, seconds after takeoff, one of the pilots of a Velocity V-Twin radioed the Janesville, Wisconsin (KJVL), tower: “We’d like to circle back and land runway 32 and…work through some engine issues if we could.”
ATC acknowledged the request, asked the pilot to report turning final for Runway 32, and asked if they needed any assistance. The reply—“No, sir. We should be fine. Give you a call turning final.”—was the last transmission. N13VT went down while turning onto final for Runway 32, killing both pilots.
Their journey began at 6:30 a.m. on February 16, 2021, leaving Appleton, Wisconsin (KATW). Their destination was Sebastian, Florida (KX26), for planned maintenance. The airplane had issues with its retractable landing gear, and was being flown on a FAA ferry permit. The permit required the aircraft operate with the landing gear extended at all times. In addition, the permit required a copilot for the flight even though the four-seat light piston normally didn’t require more than one pilot.
The Velocity V-Twin is a two-engine pusher canard. Built as a comfortable long-haul cruiser with an advertised range of 1,100 nautical miles, the experimental category fiberglass kitplane is a stunner. Outside, it looks like something from a James Bond movie—sort of a smaller version of the Beechcraft Starship. Entering through big gull-wing doors, inside it has European sports car styling with side-sticks and flat-panel displays.
To some the airplane looks backwards. On the front of the fuselage sit canards, small controllable wings that handle pitch control. Used in many remarkable aircraft, from the Wright Flyer to the Eurofighter Typhoon, canards can offer excellent control authority. In this case, they were designed to stall before the main wing, so at high angles of attack the nose automatically bobs down, always keeping the main wing flying.
On the back of the airplane are the propellers. Pusher…