NTSB Identification: ERA09LA233
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, April 05, 2009 in Mastic Beach, NY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/22/2010
Aircraft: CURTISS WRIGHT P-40N, registration: N740RB
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot's son said that he and his father were an airshow "team," that the purpose of the flight was to practice aerobatics in their World War Two-era fighter, and that he would act as a "safety guide" from the beach with a handheld radio. The pilot's son stated that all communications with the accident airplane were "normal." The airplane entered a "half Cuban eight" maneuver at an estimated 250 to 260 mph and when the airplane was "in the middle of the Cuban eight it went into a spin." The pilot's son estimated that the airplane had slowed to 100 to 120 mph--which was, according to him, "too slow"--when the airplane entered the spin and lacked the altitude to recover before crashing into the sea. A former Army fighter pilot witness described a similar sequence of events and stated that he thought the pilot was attempting an "Immelman" turn and added, "I knew he was in trouble when he didn't complete the Immelman turn and went off on one wing. The plane made 4 to 5 revolutions and augured into the ocean." The witness stated that no parts departed the airplane at anytime during the flight or accident sequence. A third and fourth witness provided similar accounts. The wreckage was not recovered from the ocean.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed while performing aerobatics at low altitude.

Full narrative available

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