NTSB Identification: LAX03FA066B
Accident occurred Saturday, January 11, 2003 in Parker, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/27/2005
Aircraft: Grumman F6F-5, registration: N4994V
Injuries: 2 Fatal,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.

A Cessna 182 and a Grumman F6F-5 collided in flight on the downwind leg of the airport traffic pattern for runway 19. The Cessna was departing on runway 19 with a left climbing turnout northbound, and the Grumman F6F-5 warbird was returning to land and had entered the airport traffic area from the north. The collision occurred about midfield on the left downwind leg for runway 19 when the Grumman overtook the climbing Cessna. The Grumman pilot was monitoring the Unicom frequency and reported several miles from the airport inbound for the overhead approach to runway 19. He overheard other aircraft in the pattern and decided to follow an F-86 warbird that was turning base to final for an overhead approach. He flew over the runway centerline about 600 feet above ground level. Near the departure end of the runway he looked left to see if there was any traffic on the downwind leg. No traffic was observed so he announced that he was in the left break for downwind and turned left to the downwind leg and climbed to the pattern altitude. At pattern altitude he was abeam the departure end of the runway. He located his reported traffic in the pattern; one was on final, one on base, and the F-86 was on his right on a wide downwind and ahead of him. He chose to follow the F-86. About midfield, while straight and level on the downwind leg, the pilot started the Before Landing Check List. During that procedure he checked his position relative to the runway. At that instant, another aircraft came into view from below and ahead of him and the collision occurred. He transmitted the collision information and subsequently landed with substantial damage to the left wing. The left wing of the Grumman impacted at the base of the rudder and vertical stabilizer of the Cessna, thus severing it from the airplane. The uncontrolled airport was sponsoring an Air Expo, which consisted of static and aerial formation flights, flybys, and parachuting events. The airport routinely provides an aeronautical advisory station (CTAF) on 122.725 MHz, and provides wind and preferred runway information. The CTAF operator at the airport did not recall hearing the Cessna on frequency. Visual examination of the Cessna's two damaged communication radios with only 25 kc frequency spacing revealed the top radio was selected to 122.7, and the other was 121.902 MHz. The Grumman airplane had one with 25 kc frequency spacing; however, the pilot was using a handheld VHF radio for transmissions on 75 kc spacing for the airport's CTAF frequency, 122.725.

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

failure of both pilot's to see and avoid one another while maneuvering in the traffic pattern. A factor in the accident was the inability of the Cessna pilot to communicate on the CTAF frequency due to the limitations of his radios.

Full narrative available

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