NTSB Identification: FTW98FA145.
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Accident occurred Sunday, March 08, 1998 in ELBERT, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/31/1998
Aircraft: DUCI'S VANS RV-3, registration: N99HV
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.

A witness said the pilot was performing aerobatics, and while maneuvering, the aircraft (acft) went into a nose high attitude as if it was coming to the top of a loop. He said one of the wings suddenly 'folded' up, and 'It looked as if it had bent at the connection between the wing and the fuselage. . . .' The acft then entered an uncontrolled descent & crashed. Metallurgical exam of the right wing revealed overload fractures in the lower & upper main spar caps, which were indicative of upward failure; initial fracture was in the lower cap area. Twisting & upward bending of the main upper spar cap was noted, as well as 'overstress separation.' Five bolt holes were found at the inboard portion of the upper & lower main spar caps with no respective bolts or remnants of such bolts. No deformation or distortion of any of the bolt holes was noted, but circular markings were noted on the forward side of both outboard holes, & similar indications were noted on the aft side of 2 other holes in the lower main spar cap. The investigation did not determine whether the missing bolts had failed & separated during the breakup, or if they had not been reinstalled during previous maintenance/modification. All rivets in both the upper & lower main spar caps were broken through the shanks 'consistent with direct shear separations. No evidence of cracking or breaking of rivet heads . . . was noted.' This was 1 of 3 RV-3s built by Tony Duci & the 2nd to structurally fail in flight. Acft had been modified as an RV-3A, but had not been re-certified as such. Aerobatic gross weight limit (1,050 lbs) had been exceeded by an estimated 120 lbs.

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

in-flight failure of the right wing spar (for an undetermined reason) as the pilot was performing aerobatic flight. The airplane's excessive gross weight (for aerobatics) was a related factor.

Full narrative available

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