NTSB Identification: ERA09LA398
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 11, 2009 in Switzerland, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/07/2011
Aircraft: BARBER JOHN A GLASAIR, registration: N132JB
Injuries: 2 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.
On the morning of the accident, the pilot made two flights southbound in the experimental amateur-built airplane and then picked up a pilot-rated passenger with the intention of returning north to the accident pilot's home airport. On the return flight the accident pilot joined up in aerial formation with a pilot-friend in another airplane and the two airplanes proceeded northbound. While enroute they practiced formation flight maneuvers. During one of the maneuvers the other pilot lost sight of the accident airplane, was unable to re-establish visual or radio contact, and concluded that the accident pilot had departed the area. Several eyewitnesses saw the two airplanes maneuvering together. At least one eyewitness reported that the accident airplane was conducting rolls, saw the airplane enter a cloud immediately after a roll, and then observed it in a descending spiral. The following day the wreckage was located in a remote, wooded area, about 2 miles from where the other pilot last saw the airplane operating. The vegetation scars were indicative of a steep impact angle and the airplane was highly fragmented. Postaccident examination of the airplane and engine did not reveal any evidence of preimpact failures or anomalies and indicated that the engine was operating at the time of impact. Autopsy and toxicological testing did not reveal any conditions which might have led to the accident. Meteorological and witness reports indicated low clouds and rain showers in the vicinity, and a broken cloud layer at 3,200 feet. Witness statements and global positioning system data indicated that the airplane never reached an altitude greater than about 1,600 feet during the maneuvers. The accident airplane Owner's Manual contained multiple recommendations that aerobatic maneuvers should "never be conducted below 3,000 feet" above ground level in order to provide sufficient terrain clearance for recovery.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: A loss of control in flight for undetermined reasons. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's performance of aerobatic maneuvers at altitudes lower than those recommended by the kit manufacturer, resulting in insufficient terrain clearance to conduct a recovery. Full narrative available
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