The pilot was returning to the airport from a local personal flight in the Pitts S2E. The airplane approached Runway 9 at the airport in Apex, N.C., at an angle before rolling inverted, descending, and hitting terrain, consistent with an aerodynamic stall. The pilot died in the crash.
A review of weather conditions revealed that, on final approach, the airplane likely experienced a tailwind of about 9 knots with wind gusts as high as 20 knots.
Pilots familiar with the airport reported that, due to the slope of the runway, pilots preferred to land on Runway 9 unless there was a tailwind of more than 10 knots.
Post-accident examination of the airplane and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operations.
It is likely that, while maneuvering on final approach to the runway with a gusting tailwind, the pilot failed to maintain control of the airplane, which resulted in the exceedance of the airplane’s critical angle of attack and an aerodynamic stall.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain airplane control during the final approach to the runway in gusting tailwind conditions, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack and an aerodynamic stall.
NTSB Identification: ERA17FA123
This March 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.