NTSB Identification: CHI05CA029.
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Accident occurred Saturday, November 13, 2004 in St. Clair, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/24/2005
Aircraft: Gray Skybolt, registration: N80TG
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The amateur-built aircraft was substantially damaged during an in-flight collision with trees and terrain. The pilot reported that he initiated a spin beginning about 3,000 feet above ground level. Once the aircraft entered the spin, he counted 2 full revolutions and then "centered the stick and rudder pedals" for recovery. However, the aircraft continued to spin. The pilot stated that he held neutral control positions for an additional 6 to 8 revolutions, at which time he elected to apply opposite (right) rudder and control stick inputs. The opposite control inputs had no effect and the aircraft continued the left spin. The pilot noted that he next applied full engine power for "about 2 or 3 seconds and it felt like it had no effect." The pilot noted: "As I got closer to the ground I again went neutral on the controls and I don't know why but the plane stopped spinning, I pulled the stick full back to pull out but I was [too] close to the ground. I estimate I was 40 to 50 feet agl when I went into the trees. I think I bounced off several trees before the plane hit the ground." The Federal Aviation Administration publication Airplane Flying Handbook, FAA-H-8083-3, stated that spin recoveries should be initiated by reducing engine power to idle, neutralizing the aileron position, applying full opposite rudder against the rotation of the spin, and providing a "positive and brisk" forward movement of the control stick to break the stall. The handbook noted that "aileron control opposite the direction of the spin may . . . aggravate the situation. It also stated: "Slow and overly cautious control movements during spin recovery must be avoided. . . . A brisk and positive technique on the other hand, results in more positive spin recovery."

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

The pilot's improper spin recovery procedure, which resulted in a failure to maintain control of the aircraft during the intentional spin. An additional cause was the pilot's inability to maintain clearance to the trees and terrain during recovery. Contributing factors were the intentional spin initiated by the pilot and the trees.

Full narrative available

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