The RV-6A was one of a group of five airplanes traveling to a fly-in. The group planned to land at an interim stop before continuing to the fly-in the following day.
The RV was the fourth to land at the airport in Knox, Ind. During the approach, it hit the ground about where a base-to-final approach turn would have been expected.
GPS data showed that the plane entered a descending left turn that reached a turn rate of about 900° per minute and a descent rate of about 1,300 feet per minute before impact.
The pilot of the fifth airplane and his passenger commented that the final radio transmissions over the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) from the RV pilot seemed out of the ordinary and that he was fumbling for words. They said that this was not common as he was usually very precise in his radio transmissions.
The pilot’s wife reported that he had complained that he was not feeling well and had chest pain two days before the flight. Reportedly, he thought the chest pain was from a pulled muscle. The wife reported that the chest pain had resolved and that the pilot was feeling better by the time of the flight, but that he had not seen a physician.
Autopsy findings revealed that the pilot had left ventricular hypertrophy and coronary artery disease that put him at risk for an acute cardiac event, but such an event would leave no evidence visible on autopsy.
In addition, the pathologist’s autopsy findings stated, “While no acute ischemic changes are found, the interstitial fibrosis is consistent with prior ischemia, and cardiac hypertrophy is associated with arrhythmias…Thus, it appears possible, given the information that decedent’s radio transmissions on the CTAF prior to the accident indicated he was fumbling for words, that he suffered a cardiac arrhythmia prior to the accident.”
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the incapacitation of the pilot due to a cardiovascular event that prevented him from maintaining control of the airplane during the landing approach.
NTSB Identification: CEN13FA446
This July 2013 accident report is are provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.