Two witnesses reported observing the Bellanca 8KCAB fly over a private airstrip that was adjacent to a small lake near Kosciusko, Mississippi. One witness said that the airplane initially made a high pass over the airstrip before it turned back at a lower altitude and then “buzzed” over the lake.
He said that, when the airplane passed over the lake, the pilot appeared to be having fun and was smiling and that the passenger was waving out the window.
The pilot then pulled the airplane straight up, likely to clear a stand of 50-foot-tall pine trees, and the airplane suddenly nosed over and dropped straight down into the ground. Both the pilot and passenger died in the crash.
The witness said that the engine was operating normally before impact.
Another witness, who was a retired airline pilot and an active aerobatic pilot, said that the pilot flew the plane over the lake on a southwesterly heading. Although he did not recall the airplane’s altitude, he could see the pilot in the cockpit when he passed by.
The airplane then began a climbing right turn. As the plane turned through 90°, the left wing dropped. The pilot appeared to try to recover from the “cross-control stall” by lowering the airplane’s nose and fully deflecting the rudder control.
The airplane’s wings leveled out momentarily before the plane suddenly nosed over. The witness reported hearing the engine power go to full throttle before the airplane hit the ground.
He added that the plane did not have sufficient altitude to recover and that it did not spin before it hit the ground.
Post-accident examination of the airplane, the witness accounts, and a review of photographs of the engine and propeller revealed no anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. It is likely that, during the low altitude fly-by, the pilot inadvertently entered an aerodynamic stall while trying to avoid trees and did not have sufficient altitude to recover.
Probable cause: The pilot’s decision to make a low pass over a lake near trees and his subsequent failure to maintain airplane control while maneuvering at a low altitude to avoid trees, which resulted in an inadvertent cross-control aerodynamic stall from which he was unable to recover.
NTSB Identification: ERA15FA147
This March 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.