Several witnesses observed the Aventura II during engine start at the airport in Sebring, Florida, and reported that, when the engine started, it tipped forward onto its nose and then fell back and its tail struck the ground.
The pilot exited the airplane, walked to the back, returned to the cockpit, and then taxied out.
No witnesses reported seeing the pilot examine the underside of the tail or the elevators after the tail strike.
A video recording made by one of the witnesses after the tail strike showed that the airplane departed, climbed to about 300 feet above ground level (agl), made a 180° left turn, and performed a pass down the runway in the opposite direction of the takeoff.
A few seconds later, after executing another 180° turn, the plane performed another low pass down the runway, this time in the direction of the takeoff.
The plane then entered a left turn, the bank angle increased until the wings were almost perpendicular to the ground, the nose of the airplane dropped, and the airplane descended in a nose-down attitude to ground impact, killing both souls on board.
The airplane came to rest on its nose with the fuselage nearly perpendicular to the ground.
Post-accident examination revealed that the elevator trim cable was separated from the trim tab. Although it is possible the trim cable disconnected when the tail struck the ground during engine start (and would have been noticeable to the pilot if he had looked), the investigation could not conclusively determine when the trim cable separated or whether the separation contributed to the pilot’s loss of airplane control.
It is likely that, during the low altitude flyby, the pilot inadvertently entered an aerodynamic stall while maneuvering and did not have sufficient altitude to recover.
The NTSB determined the probable cause the pilot’s failure to maintain control while maneuvering at low altitude, which led to the airplane exceeding its critical angle-of-attack and experiencing an aerodynamic stall.
NTSB Identification: ERA15FA102
This January 2015 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.