A witness saw the Bellanca flying over Lake Chickamauga near Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee. He noted that the airplane appeared to make “a tight U-turn” at a low altitude, about two or three treetop lengths above the water, which he thought might have been an aerobatic maneuver.
The airplane then spiraled straight down counterclockwise and hit the lake. The pilot and passenger died in the crash.
A GoPro camera was mounted on both the left and right horizontal stabilizers.
Review of the video files revealed that only the camera mounted on the right horizontal stabilizer captured the accident. The video files from that camera revealed that the airplane took off about 13 minutes after the recording began. About 5 minutes later, the airplane flew over a body of water and descended closer to the water for about 1 minute and then remained level for 22 seconds.
The airplane pitched up more than 30° above the horizon and began rolling to the left. It continued to roll to the left and entered a left spin. During the spin, the right aileron and the flaps were in an up position. The airplane then departed controlled flight and hit the water.
Review of the video showed no in-flight structural failure or loss of propeller rpm.
Probable Cause: The pilot’s improper decision to attempt an aerobatic maneuver at low altitude, which led to an aerodynamic stall and spin from which the pilot could not recover.
This January 2019 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.