This July 2010 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: North American AT-6. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Destin, Fla. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The pilot, who had logged more than 1,920 hours, was giving rides to family members in the T-6.
According to witnesses and GPS data, he was performing lazy-eights over the water, about one mile south of the beach. Two of the witnesses, who were experienced in the T-6, said they were surprised that the pilot was performing maneuvers low over the water, as the water did not provide any ground reference with regard to altitude, position, or horizon. They also expected the airplane to be about 3,000 feet while maneuvering, as that make and model airplane needed significant altitude to recover from a stall or spin.
The airplane descended to an altitude of 355 feet, reversed course from east to west with its smoke on. The groundspeed increased to 184 knots and the airplane then climbed to about 1,200 feet and completed three lazy-eight turns. During the third turn, at an altitude of 1,254 feet, the groundspeed slowed to 66 knots. The airplane stalled and completed a one-half turn spin. The pilot recovered from the spin and was in the process of recovering from the ensuing dive, when the plane hit the water.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed while maneuvering, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and spin. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s improper decision to perform the maneuvers at a low altitude and over water.
For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB Identification: ERA10FA342
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