On June 6, 1995, at 1910 central daylight time, a Bellanca 8KCAB, N8754, impacted trees while maneuvering near Joaquin, Texas. The airplane was destroyed and the airline transport rated pilot/operator received fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The airplane departed Center, Texas, about 1855 for the personal flight conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91.

The pilot resided in the town of Logansport, Louisiana, which is located on the east bank of the Sabine River directly across from Joaquin, Texas. During interviews, conducted by the investigator-in-charge, several witnesses reported they had observed the airplane flying along the river past Logansport on numerous occasions. One witness noted in his written statement that, when he saw the airplane on the day of the accident flying "north just above the tree line, everything seemed to be normal to what he usually does." This witness observed the airplane "return going south, still just above the tree line ... flying upside down." After momentarily losing sight of the airplane behind buildings, he then saw "the belly of the plane going in a downward position and suddenly an explosion."

Another witness, a neighbor of the pilot, was standing in his backyard and observed the airplane "flying south over the Sabine River." He stated the pilot "waved" the wings of the airplane as if "to acknowledge our presence." The airplane "rotated upside down (left wing up first) until the bottom of the plane was facing up" where "it seemed to quiver, not violently, but as though it had a chill," then "the nose dropped and the plane plunged vertically to the ground."

Two additional witnesses made the following observations. One witness reported that the airplane "headed north about 25 feet off the water and then went up over the bridge and came back going south and ... attempted to do a roll to the left and then turned back to the right and went down into the ground." The other witness "saw the shadow of an airplane pass over," looked up, and observed the airplane "in an incline (not real steep) and banking to the right. About that time the plane did a real sharp right and still descending. It flew directly into the trees and [river] bank in an up-right position and burst into flames."


The pilot, a retired airline captain, purchased the airplane in February 1993. Between January 1993 and November 1994, he received a total of 4 hours dual instruction in the accident airplane. During a telephone interview, conducted by the investigator-in-charge, the flight instructor characterized the primary content of these lessons as "basic aerobatics." A review of the pilot's personal logbook revealed he had accumulated a total of 325 hours in N8754 including 115 hours logged under the heading "AERO."


A review of the airframe and engine logbooks revealed no record of any uncorrected maintenance discrepancies.


The accident site was located on the west side of the Sabine River directly across from the town of Logansport, Louisiana. Wreckage was scattered on a measured magnetic heading of 195 degrees over approximately 35 feet. The right wing came to rest at the base of a tree near the top of the river bank approximately 20 feet above the water level. Bark was stripped from the tree trunk between 5 and 9 feet above ground level (AGL) and fragments of plexiglass were embedded in the tree trunk about 9 feet AGL.

The main wreckage consisting of the fuselage, empennage, and engine was located 15 feet from the tree and came to rest upright on a 220 degree magnetic heading. The right main landing gear was embedded in a crater located to the right of and parallel to the fuselage. The crater measured 15 feet in length and tapered from 6 to 1 feet in width with a central depth of 2 feet. The left wing was located 20 feet beyond the main wreckage.

Control continuity was confirmed from the rudder to both sets of rudder pedals and from the elevators to the rear control stick. Continuity was also established from the elevator trim tab to the cockpit control. Further control continuity could not be established due to the extent of damage. All cockpit instrumentation was destroyed by fire.

Examination of the engine revealed no evidence of any pre- impact mechanical anomalies. The propeller remained attached to the crankshaft and both blades remained attached to the hub. Chordwise scratching was noted on the camber and face sides of both blades. One blade was bent toward the cambered side and exhibited S-bending near the tip. Damage to the pitch change mechanism was evidenced by the position of both blades at blade angles of approximately 90 degrees.


The autopsy was performed by James R. Bruce, M.D., at the Lufkin Pathology Laboratory, Lufkin, Texas. Toxicological findings were negative.


The wreckage was released to the estate of the owner at the completion of the on-scene investigation.

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