The six-ship formation of vintage World War II airplanes had completed their run-ups on the taxiway at the airport in Midland, Texas, and were preparing for departure. A departure clearance was received from air traffic control and the six-ship formation proceeded to the runway for takeoff.
The Goodyear Corsair airplane was sixth in formation and trailing the Nakajima Zero airplane. These tailwheel airplanes required the pilots to taxi in an S-turn pattern due to the limited forward visibility.
As the Corsair pilot proceeded with the S-turn taxi to the runway, the Corsair overtook the Zero and collided with its tail. The Zero spun right about 270° and came to rest. The Corsair stopped quickly and its propeller hit the taxiway.
The Zero sustained substantial damage to the empennage and the Corsair sustained minor damage.
The pilots conducted an accident debrief and determined that a lack of “vigilance” was to blame.
Both pilots reported there were no pre-impact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframes or engines that would have precluded normal operation.
Probable cause: The Goodyear pilot did not see and avoid the Nakajima ahead on the taxiway.
NTSB Identification: CEN16CA126A
This March 2016 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.