NTSB Identification: LAX01LA294.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, August 29, 2001 in Sedona, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/28/2002
Aircraft: Harter Kitfox Classic, registration: N46MH
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

A second pilot in another airplane of the same (experimental, amateur built) type flew in loose formation with the accident aircraft and witnessed the accident. The second pilot said that the pilot's airplane had a heavier engine than most of the type did, and had a "full panel" of instruments and radios and was equipped for instrument flight. The pilot told him that, with the heavier engine and instrumentation, he was "over gross" with himself, baggage, and fuel onboard. He was carrying camping gear and the density altitude at the accident site was approximately 8,000 feet. After takeoff, the pilot was flying below and in front of the second pilot at an altitude that placed him below the canyon walls. The second pilot radioed to him "you should climb," and the pilot radioed back that he was taking pictures. About 1 mile further, it appeared that the pilot started climbing. He was keeping even with gently upsloping terrain ahead and was in no danger at that point. The pilot then made a right turn into a narrow canyon that would take him across a ridgeline toward a scenic canyon. Flying behind him, it took the second pilot a moment to reach the entrance to the canyon and, when he did, he was immediately uncomfortable. Even from his higher altitude the second pilot was barely level with the ridgeline ahead. He radioed to the pilot that he should "do a 180 . . . there is room to your right." At this point he had sufficient space to his right to reverse course. The pilot radioed back words to the effect that he thought he could make it and would proceed ahead. The second pilot radioed that he was turning immediately and that the pilot had plenty of spacing and was clear of terrain. When he started his climbing left turn he last saw the accident airplane below and in front of him, hugging the left canyon wall. It appeared the pilot was setting up to make a right turn out of the canyon. He appeared to be in a climbing attitude. When the second pilot completed his 360-degree turn, he next saw the airplane in a 45-degree right bank as it entered a spin to the right at about 300 feet agl. The spin continued for 2 1/2 turns and the airplane impacted terrain below and a fire erupted. It appeared that the spin slowed and a partial recovery was made just before the impact. In the immediate area where the accident occurred the canyon was closing; there was rising terrain ahead and insufficient canyon width to turn around. The second pilot said there was no transmission (on the radio) of any mechanical problem and, as he watched the aircraft spin, it appeared that the airplane was structurally intact.

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

The failure of the pilot to initiate a course reversal in a timely manner after flying into a box canyon and his failure to maintain airspeed during the attempted course reversal, which resulted in a stall spin.

Full narrative available

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