On June 29, 1996, at 1256 central daylight time (cdt), a Piper J3C-65, NC77563, piloted by a commercially certificated pilot, was destroyed during a collision with the ground while turning about 75 feet above the ground. The airplane was participating in an airshow act at the time of the ground collision. The 14 CFR Part 91 flight was not operating on a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The pilot was fatally injured. The flight departed Racine, Wisconsin, at 1245 cdt. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
A video tape of the flight showed the airplane flying at an approximate altitude of 100 feet above the ground. The airplane pitched up about 20 degrees. Its pitch attitude increased about 5 more degrees and then it pitched down. As the airplane pitched down it began a constant rate left banked turn. The left rudder was deflected. After a heading change of about 45 degrees, the airplane had an approximate 45 degree bank and 10 degree pitch down attitude. Left rudder deflection was observed. As the bank and heading change continued through about 90 degrees, it pitched down about 30 degrees. The airplane's elevator was in the up position. The airplane continued to pitch down and roll to the left. During its descent the rudder was moved left and right. The elevator was in the up position and the ailerons were positioned for a right bank during about the last half of the flight. The airplane began to roll to the right just before its left wing collided with the ground.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Principal Operations Inspector (POI) reported NC77563's pilot had performed the airshow routine on 4 to 5 previous occasions. He said the airshow act was one in which the pilot had pretended to be a "student pilot" (student). The student was seated in the rear seat of the airplane while her partner, the "flight instructor" (instructor), went to the tail of the airplane with the intent of inspecting it. At the time the instructor arrived at the tail the student would begin taking off. A series of student-performed maneuvers would follow the takeoff.
The on-scene investigation revealed that NC77563 had flight control system continuity. There was no evidence of airframe failure found by the FAA Principal Maintenance Inspector (PMI) conducting the on-scene investigation. The PMI reported the left wing was crushed and twisted aft. He said the right wing had separated at the fuselage and was found lying against the fuselage's right side. He reported the wing's main spar fuselage carrythrough was cracked and splintered. The PMI reported the engine had mechanical continuity throughout. The propeller blades were curled back to their midspan point according to the PMI.
The aviation weather surface reports for the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, area showed surface winds from the southwest at 15 to 20 knots with gusts to 28 knots. The terminal forecast for Milwaukee, Wisconsin, showed winds from 230 degrees magnetic at 16 knots with gusts to 25 knots.
The autopsy was conducted on June 30, 1996, at the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by Dr. K. Alan Stormo. The toxicological test was conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The result of that test showed an unspecified amount Pseudoephedrine was found in the blood and urine samples. Also, unspecified amounts of Ephedrine and Phenylpropanolamine were found in the urine sample. According to the manager of CAMI, these drugs have had no negative side affects on NC77563's pilot.
The wreckage was released to the John H. Batten Airport's manager on June 30, 1996.