Aircraft: Lancair IV-P. Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious. Location: Hammonton, N.J. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The Lancair pilot told a witness that he was going to fly to a nearby airport to visit a friend. He was aware that the nearby airport had occasional aerobatic activity near the runway, within an aerobatic box. The box was active on the day of the accident, with a Notice to Airmen issued for aerobatic activity at 3,500 feet and below.
The Lancair approached the airport at about 3,500 feet and at an airspeed of about 190 knots. The Lancair collided with an aerobatic airplane in the box that had just completed a hammerhead stall and was in a dive. The Lancair cut through the aerobatic airplane’s fuselage just aft of the cockpit, top to bottom. The Lancair lost about 4 feet of its left wing and crashed in nearby woods. The pilot of the aerobatic airplane parachuted into the same woods.
The aerobatic pilot and an observer stated that clearing turns were conducted prior to the aerobatic maneuver. However, the sun’s position and the airspeed of the oncoming airplane would have made it highly unlikely that the aerobatic pilot would have seen the Lancair.
It is unknown what the Lancair pilot’s intentions were at the time of the accident. A relative of the pilot, who was also a pilot and who had flown with him often, surmised that the approach to the airport at such a high altitude may have been an exploratory overflight, which is supported by the airplane’s high airspeed at the time. Radar indicated that the Lancair pilot did not perform any standoff maneuvering prior to approaching the airport, and other pilots in the air at the time heard no advisory radio transmissions from him. With his knowledge of potential aerobatic activity at the airport, it is not known why he did not use advocated collision avoidance strategies. The aerobatic box was permanently closed by the FAA shortly after the accident.
Probable cause: The Lancair pilot’s failure to see and avoid the aerobatic airplane. Contributing to the accident was his inadequate use of collision avoidance strategies while inbound to an area of known potential aerobatic activity.
NTSB Identification: ERA11FA468A
This August 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.