NTSB Identification: ERA12FA345
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, May 21, 2012 in Port Richey, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/19/2013
Aircraft: SHEPARD JIMMY D JR PITTS S1D, registration: N360MW
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Several witnesses reported that the pilot was conducting aerobatic maneuvers over the Gulf of Mexico. The airplane initiated a loop between 300 to 500 feet above the water. At the top of the loop, while inverted, the airplane started the descent; however, the airplane was too low to recover. The airplane collided with the water in a nose-down, left-wing-low attitude. There was no noticeable change in engine noise during the accident sequence. Examination of the airframe, flight controls, engine assembly and accessories revealed no anomalies.

According to the pilot’s wife, for the 4 days leading up to the accident, the pilot had symptoms of a cold and was prescribed Amoxicillin, an antibiotic which treats infections.On the day of the accident, the pilot did not complain of or was not known to have any issues with light headedness or dizziness. Based on this information the pilot did not appear to have a medical condition that would have contributed to the accident and witness accounts indicated the pilot was maneuvering the airplane until impact with the water.

According to the operating rules section of 14 Code of Federal Regustions Part 91, which defines the restrictions on aerobatics, no person may operate an aircraft in aerobatic flight below an altitude of 1,500 feet above the surface.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot's decision to conduct aerobatic flight at a low altitude, which resulted in a collision with the water.

Full narrative available

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