A witness, who was a friend of the pilot, was at an automobile racing facility near Alton, Va., when he received a text message from the pilot that the airplane would fly over in six minutes.
The North American T-28C then performed a low pass over the area, reversed direction, and initiated a barrel roll during the second pass.
Although the airplane started to climb before the barrel roll, video evidence indicates that it was only 100 feet above ground level, which was not high enough to complete the maneuver.
The airplane subsequently collided with trees and terrain, resulting in two fatalities.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s failure to maintain altitude while performing low-level aerobatic maneuvers, which resulted in collision with terrain. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s improper decision to attempt aerobatics at such a low altitude.
NTSB Identification: ERA14FA445
This September 2014 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.