NTSB Identification: DFW06FA180.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, July 11, 2006 in Virginia Beach, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/29/2007
Aircraft: Beech C24R, registration: N78MB
Injuries: 2 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.

The aircraft stalled while in the traffic pattern and struck trees, then crashed into the ground. Shortly after takeoff, the 1,493-hour instrument rated private pilot informed air traffic control that a "door had opened" and that he needed to return to the airport. The pilot leveled off at an altitude of 200 feet msl at an airspeed of 100 knots and proceeded to make two left turns to enter the downwind leg of the traffic pattern. Radar data revealed that while on the downwind leg, the airplane's ground speed decelerated to 70 knots. When the airplane was about one-mile beyond the end of the runway, it began another left turn before it collided with trees in the backyard of a private residence. A witness heard a large shaking sound similar to a semi-type truck braking down in front of his home. He then looked up and saw the airplane flying "very slow" about 20-feet-high above the tree line. The witness demonstrated with a model airplane that the airplane had a slightly nose-high attitude and was in a shallow left turn. The airplane was shaking violently. The witness then maneuvered the model airplane so it simultaneously rolled rapidly to the left (inverted) and the nose of the airplane dropped toward the ground. The witness said he lost sight of the airplane as it descended into the trees. Raytheon released a Mandatory Service Bulletin and a Safety Communique regarding doors opening in flight on this and other model airplanes in 1990. A review of the accident airplane's maintenance logbook revealed that the Service Bulletin was initially complied with in 1991, which required a Cabin Door Latching Warning placard to be placed on both of the main cabin door windows. On December 14, 1995, both the left and right cabin windows were removed and replaced; however, there was no entry in the logbook regarding the replacement of the placard. On June 13, 2003, the right cabin window was again removed and replaced; however, there was no entry that the placard had been installed. Examination of both the left and right cabin windows at the accident site revealed that the Cabin Door Latching Warning placard was not installed on either window as directed in the Service Bulletin. The airplane came to rest in the backyard of a residence in the inverted position. The flaps were found in the retracted position, and the landing gear were found in the fully retracted position. No anomalies were found with the airframe or the engine that could have prevented normal flight operations. The winds at the time of the mishap were reported from 230 degrees at 9 knots.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain airspeed, which resulted in an inadvertent stall/spin while maneuvering at a low altitude. Contributing was the pilot's diverted attention to an open door.

Full narrative available

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