NTSB Identification: MIA99LA131.
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Accident occurred Saturday, April 17, 1999 in JACKSON, MS
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/04/2000
Aircraft: Piper J-3C, registration: N38272
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The airshow pilot stated that he positioned the airplane's externally mounted 12 foot aerial rope ladder onto the truck's rear platform, as practiced, and when given the radio call from the truck driver that the performer 'was on', the pilot started a climb away from the truck. At about 100 feet agl, the pilot felt a lurch, and the performer lost his grip on the ladder and fell to his death. Post crash examination of the FAA approved ladder and attach points revealed no failures or malfunctions. A video tape of the routine revealed that the ladder performer's jacket inflated just before the fall. The acrobatic routine pilot immediately preceding the accident stated flying conditions were turbulent at altitude, but conditions at the runway surface allowed a smooth touchdown. Toxicological testing of specimens from the performer revealed the presence of diazepam, (trade name, valium) and its metabolite, however, the blood specimen levels of each were below the limit of quantitation.

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

The failure of the airshow aerial performer to maintain a grip on the airplane's externally mounted rope ladder for unknown reasons and his failure to install and use a safety line resulting in his fall to earth. A factor in the accident was the sudden 'blossoming' by the air stream of the performer's jacket just before he lost his grip due to inadequate preflight securing.

Full narrative available

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