On Saturday, March 23, 2019, a new airplane type was destroyed on its second test flight. Immediately after takeoff, the two-seater suffered pitch and roll oscillations. It climbed about 400 feet, then, still fluctuating in pitch and roll, crashed in a nearby field, killing the pilot, who was also the plane’s designer. Because it was a one-off aircraft, and an unusual one, at that, definitive aerodynamic or engineering answers are hard to establish. But the larger takeaways aren’t.
The designer of the plane, Richard Hogan, was born in 1956 in Fort Worth, Texas. His aviation passion ignited early, as he watched Air Force jets fly from the nearby base. He built paper planes and sketched futuristic-looking cars and aircraft. At 12, his grandfather told him his eyes weren’t good enough to be a pilot, suggesting instead a career in aircraft design. During high school, he developed the outlines of a cool-looking “personal commuter” plane that would be his lifelong dream. Hogan trained as an aeronautical engineer but told Plane & Pilot in a 2016 story that when he graduated at the end of the Vietnam War, “there were 10 aeronautical engineers for every job. I became a structural engineer but always stayed close to the aviation field and waited until I had the opportunity to get back into it.”