This July 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: Aero Vodochody L-29. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Tehachapi, Calif. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The airplane was participating in three-airplane formation flight. A commercial pilot with approximately 3,300 hours was in the front seat, while an airline transport pilot with approximately 18,900 hours was in the back seat. It was not determined which pilot was flying at the time of the accident. The lead pilot of the formation reported that after overflying the city in a trailing formation, the flight conducted a series of turns. The number two and three airplanes were to join up on the lead pilot’s left and right wings. As the flight conducted a right turn, the number two airplane joined up on the lead pilot’s left wing and the number three airplane passed the lead pilot on his right. As the turn continued, the accident airplane pitched upwards and rolled to the left over the formation, then continued to descend into the ground and exploded in flames. Witnesses in the vicinity of the accident reported that the aircraft had been flying at an altitude of 500 feet AGL.
The investigation did not reveal any pre-crash mechanical issues with the engine or airframe.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from terrain during flight.
For more information: NTSB.gov NTSB Identification: WPR09LA325