According to the pilot, the deHavilland Tiger Moth’s engine power and performance were “good,” and the airplane demonstrated its “gentle” handling characteristics through both left and right 30° banking turns.
The plane crossed the airport in Williamson, Georgia, about traffic pattern altitude and then entered a vertical, nose-down descent.
The pilot reported he could not recall how the airplane transitioned from level flight to a nose-down descent. However, it is likely he did not maintain airspeed and that the airplane exceeded its critical angle-of-attack.
During the descent, he held the control stick fully aft, and the elevator gained enough authority to allow him to level the plane just above ground level as he flew it between a parked airplane and the airport restaurant.
The airplane then collided with a flagpole, the restaurant, and terrain before coming to rest upright.
The pilot said that, once the airspeed increased sufficiently during the descent, he had full flight control authority.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed while maneuvering, which led to the airplane exceeding its critical angle-of-attack and experiencing an aerodynamic stall at an insufficient altitude to fully recover before collision with obstacles and terrain.
NTSB Identification: ERA15LA052
This November 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.