NTSB Identification: ERA13FA309
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, June 30, 2013 in Ocean City, MD
Aircraft: NANCHANG CHINA CJ-6A, registration: N116RL
Injuries: 2 Fatal.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 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.
On June 30, 2013, about 1605 eastern daylight time, a China Nanchang CJ-6A airplane, N116RL, was destroyed during a collision with water following a spiraling descent, just offshore from Ocean City, Maryland. The certificated private pilot/owner and one passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The local flight departed Ocean City Municipal Airport (OXB), at 1532.
The pilot and passenger were friends and fellow officers with the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD), and the purpose of the flight was a local pleasure/orientation flight for the passenger.
Several witnesses provided written and verbal statements to the Ocean City Beach Patrol, the Maryland State Police, and the OCPD, and the statements were largely consistent throughout. Most described the airplane as it descended in a steady-state, nose down spin to water contact. Some described a "flat spin" as well as describing the landing as "flat… a belly flop."
In a telephone interview, one witness said he was familiar with the accident airplane, and had watched it fly over Ocean City and its beaches many times. About 15 minutes prior to the accident, he heard the airplane's distinctive engine sound, so he called his friends' attention to it. The witness watched one loop, and one barrel roll, and described the maneuvers as “slow” and “lazy” and some distance from shore. He said the airplane flew out of his sight to the north after that, and didn’t notice the airplane return near his location.
The witness then next noticed the airplane in a spiraling descent. He did not see the airplane depart controlled flight, and said he’d never seen the airplane fly close to shore before. He added, “He has never been that low, or that close to the shore.” When asked about the sound of the engine, he said there was none. When asked if he thought the sound of boats operating close by could have drowned the engine out, and he said no.
The witness stated that nothing departed the airplane during the descent, and he said he noticed that the canopy was still on the airplane throughout its descent. He described the airplane in a shallow, nose-down descent and added that the airplane’s attitude was nearly flat, and that it “pancaked” into the water with a slapping sound, “like your hand slapping against the water.”
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land. His most recent third class medical certificate was issued November 12, 2009. No pilot logbook was recovered, but on his most recent insurance application, he reported 819 total hours of flight experience, of which 204 hours were in the accident airplane make and model.
The airplane was manufactured in 1980 and registered in the experimental category. Its most recent annual inspection was completed on September 12, 2012, at 6,576 total aircraft hours.
The majority of the airplane was recovered on July 4, 2014 and examination of the wreckage was scheduled for a later date. Video footage as well as still photography revealed that the airplane appeared intact all the way to water contact. Sonar mapping and salvage divers revealed that the entire airplane rested together on the ocean floor, but was fractured in several places due to impact. The left wing was lost during recovery.
A video camera was recovered from the cockpit, and forwarded to the NTSB Recorders Laboratory in Washington, DC, for download.
At 1621, the weather reported at OXB included few clouds at 600 feet, and the winds were from 200 degrees at 7 knots gusting to 17 knots.
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