A witness reported that he was outside his house when he heard an airplane “flying aerobatics.”
He heard the Steen Skybolt conduct two to three passes, adding he could hear the engine “cycling under load as they do in airshows.”
He then went to the other side of the house, where he saw the plane in a hammerhead climb climbing straight up. The plane then entered a slow, spiraling descent straight down, during which he did not hear engine noise. The airplane made about four spirals before it went out of sight behind rising terrain.
The witness added that it did not appear that any attempt was made to recover from the descent. He was uncertain about what altitude the airplane was at when it was at the top of the hammerhead maneuver.
The airplane wreckage was found less than 1/4 mile from the pilot’s private grass airstrip in Era, Texas. The pilot died in the crash.
The examination of the wreckage revealed no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. Given the witness statement, it is likely that the pilot lost airplane control while conducting aerobatic flight maneuvers and that there was insufficient altitude to recover.
Probable cause: The pilot’s loss of airplane control while conducting aerobatic flight maneuvers with insufficient altitude to recover.
NTSB Identification: CEN17FA075
This January 2017 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.