This April 2008 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: SIAI-Marchetti SF-260. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Belfast, Maine. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The pilot, who had logged approximately 3,600 hours, held a commercial certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine and multi-engine land, and instrument airplane. He also held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine sea.
According to witnesses, the airplane took off and then did a barrel roll over a bay, then began to climb toward an overcast cloud layer. One witness observed the airplane begin a second maneuver and, as it was “still upside down,” the nose of the airplane pointed down to the water and disappeared from view. Another witness had turned his back when he assumed the airplane was going into the overcast cloud layer, however, he and several other witnesses heard a loud bang, which was the sound of the airplane hitting the water.
Due to the depths of the water and the size of the debris area, the airplane was not recovered; however, the wreckage was videotaped on the bottom of the bay. Deformation of the wing spars indicated positive high g-loading just prior to impact. The diver who recovered the pilot’s body stated that everything forward of the rear seat was shredded.
Based on the witness accounts, authorities speculated that the pilot became disoriented while performing aerobatic maneuvers over the water and in proximity to the clouds.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain control of the airplane due to spatial disorientation during an aerobatic maneuver.
For more information: NTSB.gov