Aerobatic practice kills two

This February 2010 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Yakovlev Yak 52. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Redlands, Calif. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The 27-year-old pilot, who held a commercial pilot certificate, had logged more than 277 hours, including 21 in the Yak 52. The passenger also held a commercial pilot certificate.

Witnesses reported that the pilot completed several loops and other aerobatic maneuvers over the course of about 10 minutes. The airplane then began a spin from a low altitude and continued in a corkscrew path until hitting the ground.

Ground scar analysis and wreckage fragmentation revealed that the airplane hit in a slight nose-low attitude at a relatively low airspeed, an indication that the pilot was likely recovering from the spin at the time of impact. All major components were accounted for at the accident site, but flight control continuity could not be established due to the extensive fragmentation of the wreckage.

Within the wreckage two pieces of paper were found on the pilot’s kneeboard labeled “International Aerobatic Club.” According to an industry expert, this is referred to as a “known sequence” for an International Aerobatic Club contest at the sportsman level, which is essentially a beginners’ skill level. The pilot had pages on his kneeboard showing how the maneuvers are to be performed based on the prevailing wind direction and the order they are to be performed.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain aircraft control and altitude sufficient to recover from a low-level aerobatic maneuver.

For more information: NTSB Identification: WPR10FA131.



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