NTSB Identification: IAD96FA061.
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Accident occurred Sunday, April 14, 1996 in HARTWOOD, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/13/1997
Aircraft: Cessna P206C, registration: N8682Z
Injuries: 1 Fatal,2 Serious,1 Uninjured.

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.

The pilot stated that after climbing to 10,000' msl on a skydiving flight, the occupants began preparations for the fourth and final parachute jump of the day. The first parachutist (skydiver) of three was standing on the right wing strut preparing to jump, when his main parachute (that he had packed himself) deployed inadvertently. He (and/or his parachute) struck the right horizontal stabilizer; subsequently, the stabilizers (empennage) separated from the airplane. The second skydiver stated that he had one foot on the wheel step and the other foot in the door when the first skydiver's main parachute deployed. He stated that the airplane gyrated and that he was pressed against the lower side of the wing, but he was able to free himself. The pilot stated that shortly after the first skydiver had exited the airplane, he (the pilot) felt a 'thud' and the airplane started to react violently. The pilot tried to regain control of the airplane, but was unsuccessful. He stated that he and the third skydiver were slammed around inside the airplane as it continued gyrating. The pilot exited the airplane by pulling himself to the door. The third skydiver did not exit the airplane, and the airplane crashed. Examination of the wreckage did not disclose any preaccident anomalies.

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

the inadvertent/premature deployment of the first skydiver's parachute, which resulted in contact with the airplane's horizontal stabilizer by the first skydiver and his parachute, loss of integrity of the empennage to the aft fuselage, loss of aircraft control, and subsequent separation of the empennage. The third skydiver was fatally injured when he failed or was unable to bail out of the uncontrolled airplane.

Full narrative available

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