Low altitude aerobatics kills one

Aircraft: RV-8. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Armistead, Calif. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: Multiple witnesses located near the accident site reported seeing the airplane flying over their position about 130 feet above the ground followed by it performing several barrel rolls.

The pilot made a 180° turn, then initiated a loop at a low altitude. The airplane hit the ground in a near-vertical attitude before the maneuver was completed.

The post-accident examination of the airplane revealed no evidence of a malfunction or failure that would have precluded normal operation.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from terrain while performing low altitude aerobatic maneuvers.

NTSB Identification: WPR12FA062

This December 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.


  1. Mike says

    The ONLY good thing was he didn’t take anyone else with him.
    I agree with the others there should be a separate category for these totally stupid ‘accidents’. And yep, the 3rd Class medical didn’t prevent this one…. shows some are flying without a medical regardless of it being required or not.

  2. Tom says

    The alcohol was from sources other than ingestion? So how did he get it, IV? Losartan is a blood pressure pill, so that isn’t a big deal.

    I don’t think that they should count these obvious “stupid moron” cases in the same category as the rest. Most of us try to be safe for us and our passengers, and idiots like this raise public fear of GA and insurance rates for the rest of us.

    • Sarah A says

      The stated Ethenol could be have been naturally derived from some metabolic process. They noted that it was detected in the muscle tissue, no mention of anything detected from blood analysis. It would be interesting to hear more on this and what signifiance the stated concentration would have on the pilots ability to make rational decisions.

      • Richard says

        The autopsy was conducted 3 days after the accident and I think that it is a normal process for alcohol to develop in the tissues as it breaks down. If he had been using alcohol it would have shown up in the blood, not the tissue. It comes down to he was either absolutely stupid or was trying to commit suicide. As the saying from Einstein goes: ” The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits”. I guess the FAA will say it was caused because he didn’t have a current 3rd class physical.

  3. RudyH says

    Well now…Post-mortem states ‘ethanol detected’ a few times; aviator blew off the suspense date for his 3rd class cert.; suspect there was probable cause for this one to get examined and wee in the ole’ cup….this is just one of ’em that would never self-police on fit to fly…impaired judgement on appropriate aerobatics altitude?……just sayin’

  4. Mooney says

    Perhaps the FAA should develop a new classification structure for GA accident statistics; stupid and all other. We would quickly discover that medical has never been a cause of accidnets, once you eliminate the use of alcohol and drugs . The all other categoriy can be addressed through annual flight training (in lieu of a useless third class medical). Regarding the stupid category, I guess that group is with us forever.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *