The pilot reported that the purpose of the flight in the Piper J5A was to maneuver at low altitude and chase birds away from designated fields near Lake Harbor, Florida.
He had completed about eight to 10 turns over the target field and during a steep “reversal turn” to the left, the airplane hit terrain. The pilot had no other recollection of the accident.
According to a witness who was a private pilot, he observed the J5 enter a “steep turn” to the left about 50′ to 75′ above the ground. He reported the airplane “stalled and spun into the ground,” and that the engine noise became louder seconds before impact.
The fuselage and both wings were substantially damaged.
The FAA Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge in part states: an airplane will “stall at a higher indicated airspeed when excessive maneuvering loads are imposed by steep turns, pull-ups, or other abrupt changes in its flight path.”
Stalls entered from such flight situations are called “accelerated maneuver stalls,” a term, which has no reference to the airspeeds involved. Stalls which result from abrupt maneuvers tend to be more rapid, or severe, than the unaccelerated stalls, and because they occur at higher-than-normal airspeeds, and/or may occur at lower than anticipated pitch attitudes, they may be unexpected by an inexperienced pilot.
Failure to take immediate steps toward recovery when an accelerated stall occurs may result in a complete loss of flight control, notably, power-on spins.
Probable cause: The pilot’s exceedance of the critical angle of attack while maneuvering at low altitude, which resulted in an accelerated aerodynamic stall, spin, and impact with terrain.
NTSB Identification: GAA16CA166
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.