Low-level aerobatics kills one

Aircraft: Pitts S1D. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Port Richey, Fla. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: Several witnesses reported that the pilot was conducting aerobatic maneuvers over the Gulf of Mexico. He initiated a loop between 300 to 500 feet above the water.

At the top of the loop, while inverted, the airplane started the descent. The pilot did not have sufficient altitude to recover and the airplane hit the water in a nose-down, left-wing-low attitude.

There was no noticeable change in engine noise during the accident sequence.

Examination of the airframe, flight controls, engine assembly and accessories revealed no anomalies.

According to the operating rules section of 14 Code of Federal Regustions Part 91, which defines the restrictions on aerobatics, no person may operate an aircraft in aerobatic flight below an altitude of 1,500 feet above the surface.

Probable cause: The pilot’s decision to conduct aerobatic flight at a low altitude, which resulted in a collision with the water.

NTSB Identification: ERA12FA345

This May 2012 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. robert stambovky says

    more $$ than good sense
    try to teach yourself aerobatics disregarding Regs
    Life is tough; tougher if you’re stupid-and dead.

    • Gary Goodenow says

      Perhaps you knew this pilot well and your comment is founded on personal observation and know there is no waivered aerobatic box involved but your words do not contribute anything to learning from this accident. You have merely denigrated a pilot who is not here to defend the results his judgment.

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