The pilot reported that the Pipistrel Alpha Trainer was at 5,000 feet and an engine power setting of 5,000 rpm when he began to pitch and roll to practice a chandelle.
At the start of the control inputs for the maneuver, he looked down at his kneeboard and personal electronic device and readjusted its position on his leg and around the control stick.
During this time, he told investigators that he may have released the back pressure on the control stick, but continued the turn.
While focused on the kneeboard he heard the engine rpm increase, then looked up and realized the airplane had entered an unusual attitude.
During this same time, he became disoriented and tried to correct visually, instead of by reference to the instruments. He inadvertently increased the rate of descent and was unable to determine the airplane’s position as it rapidly gained airspeed.
He then heard a “pop” sound and deployed the airplane’s ballistic recovery system (BRS). The BRS system’s parachute deployed successfully, and the airplane came to rest in trees near Rural Hall, N.C., without its left wing.
The outboard section of the left wing was subsequently recovered, however, the inboard section was not found.
Probable Cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain airplane control and improper recovery from an unusual attitude, which resulted in an in-flight breakup.
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This October 2020 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.