This September 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: Pitts S-1D. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Ridgely, Maryland. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The private pilot bought the homebuilt aircraft in 2006. Soon after he called the builder and asked him to re-rig the flight controls. After the builder rigged the flight controls he refused to make an entry in the airframe logbook for the work performed, as the FAA-required annual conditional inspection had not been performed.
At the time of the accident the pilot did not hold a valid medical certificate. His most recent application for a third-class medical had been on June 28, 2001, when he reported 750 hours of flight experience. The pilot, who did not have an instrument rating, did not receive a weather briefing prior to the flight. He departed the airport sometime after 6 p.m. eastern daylight time and returned about an hour later just prior to sunset. The temperature and dew point spread converged, which resulted in the formation of fog.
There were no witnesses to the accident. The airplane had to clear 60-foot trees 594 feet from the approach end of the runway to land safely. Examination of the airplane and accident site by an FAA inspector revealed that the airplane had come to rest against the base of a tree approximately 600 feet from the arrival end of the runway. Ground scars and the main landing gear assembly were discovered approximately 75 feet prior to where the airplane had come to rest.
During the investigation it was determined that the airplane was not equipped with position lights, a rotating beacon, communications equipment, or an emergency locator transmitter.
Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate preflight weather evaluation, which resulted in an attempted landing in fog and subsequent impact with terrain.
For more information: NTSB.gov