This May 2009 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: RV-6A. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Plainwell, Mich. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The left-seat pilot, 76, who had logged 868 hours, had a special issuance of his FAA medical certificate due to a history of glaucoma controlled on medication, and of a partial lung obstruction that did not result in any symptoms. The pilot-rated passenger had logged 888 hours, including 30 in the six months before the accident. Several witnesses reported seeing the airplane performing turns at a low altitude. The witnesses said the airplane was barely above the trees when it banked sharply to the left. The left wing hit the ground and the airplane came down on its wheels, then caught fire.
The post-impact examination of airframe and engine revealed no mechanical anomalies. Each pilot had autopsy evidence of coronary artery disease and a previous heart attack, though it is possible that either or both were not aware of their heart disease. In addition, the pilot-rated passenger had recently ingested a medication containing an over-the-counter sedating antihistamine. The investigation, however, could not determine whether impairment or incapacitation affected either pilot.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain aircraft control for undetermined reasons.
For more information: NTSB.Gov