NTSB Identification: ERA12FA093
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, December 01, 2011 in Fulton, NY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/29/2012
Aircraft: Wing John R Wittman Tailwind, registration: N865JT
Injuries: 1 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.

According the spouse of the pilot, the purpose of the flight was for him to become more familiar with the airplane in order to complete the required 40 flight hours of the phase one operating limitations. According to several witnesses, they heard the engine "sputter" and saw the airplane pitch nose down and descend through trees before impacting the ground. Such a descent is indicative of an aerodynamic stall. A postaccident examination of the airplane revealed no anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the airframe or engine. Based on the temperature and dew point at the time of the accident, the conditions were favorable for serious carburetor icing at a cruise power setting. The carburetor heat control was in the full forward or "closed" position. The witness statements about the engine, as well as the favorable conditions for serious carburetor ice formation, suggest a partial loss of power. The pilot, still becoming familiar with the handling characteristics of the airplane, likely became preoccupied with restoring full engine power and maneuvering the airplane toward the airport in order to land and unintentionally entered an aerodynamic stall.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall. Contributing to the accident was a partial loss of engine power due to the formation of carburetor ice.

Full narrative available

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