Aircraft: Piper Aztec. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Bullard, Texas. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: Witnesses noticed the airplane making several turns before it pitched nose-up, climbed, rolled to the right, and then descended nose-down to the ground. Several witnesses observed airplane components floating to the ground behind the airplane. All witnesses reported hearing loud engine noises throughout the event.
The airplane hit the ground nose first in a near-vertical angle. Distribution of the airplane wreckage supported the observation by eyewitnesses of an in-flight breakup.
An examination found that both wings failed in overload with positive wing loading. In addition, there was no evidence of flight control over-travel or flutter. It could not be determined whether the pilot intended to perform the abnormal maneuver that resulted in an overload of the airplane or if it was the result of a physiological issue.
Probable cause: The pilot’s maneuver, which exceeded the airplane’s structural limit and resulted in an in-flight breakup.
NTSB Identification: CEN12FA628
This August 2012 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.