NTSB Identification: FTW98FA063A
Accident occurred Sunday, December 07, 1997 in BOZEMAN, MT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/15/1999
Aircraft: Pitts S-2B, registration: N693SB
Injuries: 3 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.

A witness observed an aircraft performing aerobatics near Montana State University campus. Another witness reported seeing a Pitts 'tipping its wings (straight on its side) one way, then the other.' This same witness observed the Pitts continue north 'doing tricks, when it suddenly went straight down.' A Cessna was flying by Gallatin Field (Bozeman, MT) on an airway, and reported that he was 7,700 feet mean sea level (msl) and climbing. A witness observed the Cessna flying eastbound and the Pitts closing about a 45 degree angle on the starboard forward quarter. The witness watched both planes for about 5 seconds, until impact 'both planes maintained level flight and neither made any turns or abrupt maneuvers.' Victor airways are low route area navigation tracks which extend upward from 1,200 feet above the surface of the earth to, but not including, 18,000 feet msl. They extend horizontally 4 nautical miles on each side of the airways center line. Aerobatic maneuvers are prohibited over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement and within 4 nautical miles of the center line of any Federal airway.

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

The failure of both pilots to maintain visual lookout. Factors were the pilot of N693SB not following procedures and directives, and using poor judgment in regards to where he performed aerobatics.

Full narrative available

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