Aircraft: Polaris Polar Star. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Dewees Island, S.C. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: According to witnesses, the non-certified pilot was attempting to fly loops in an unregistered, experimental Polaris Polar Star.
The weight-shift-control aircraft consisted of an inflatable boat attached to a fabric-covered wing. Since the aircraft qualified as a light-sport aircraft, at minimum the pilot should have had a sport pilot license to legally operate it with a passenger on board.
The aircraft was not certificated to perform aerobatic maneuvers. Witnesses said it was at the top of the second loop, inverted, at an estimated altitude of 1,000 feet above the water, when the wing folded. It dropped straight down into shallow water.
Toxicology testing on the pilot’s blood was positive for a blood alcohol level of .069. FAA regulations prohibit operation of an aircraft with blood alcohol levels above .040.
Probable cause: The non-certificated pilot’s operation of the unregistered airplane while impaired by alcohol. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s performance of aerobatic maneuvers that exceeded the structural limits of the aircraft, which resulted in failure of the wing due to overload.
NTSB Identification: ERA11LA415
This July 2011 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.