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On May 27, 2000, about 1045 eastern daylight time, two Avions Mudry CAP-10B's, N82BW and N86KB, registered to and operated by French Connection Airshows, Inc. as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 air show formation audio/videotaped promotion flight, collided in flight and crashed on the Flagler County Airport, Bunnell, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. Both aircraft were destroyed and the CFI-rated lead pilot and commercially-rated wingman sustained fatal injuries. The formation flight departed the same airport about 17 minutes before the accident.
According to eyewitnesses, including the ground-based photography crew who had been contracted to record audio/videotape of the formation flight, and confirmed by examination of the same tape, the team had performed a two-abreast, (wingman on lead's right wing) formation hammerhead stall from flight paths in a vertical plane 90-degrees to the horizon. The formation stall recovery was performed by each airplane simultaneously yawing 180-degrees about its own yaw axis such that the wingman's position transferred to the lead's left wing, while they remained in the same plane, 90-degrees to the horizon, nose down. The maneuver terminated with the wingman rolling 180-degrees from the two-abreast formation while the formation was in its downward flight path, (essentially belly-to-belly) and simultaneous pullouts that resulted in a formation split-up into horizontal flight paths 180 degrees apart. Following two satisfactory formation hammerhead stalls, the collision occurred during the third hammerhead stall recovery at the point where the wingman rolled into the belly-to-belly formation at an estimated altitude of 500 to 700 feet agl. In addition to the ground-based camera, an aircraft mounted camera was taking airborne footage from the wingtip of the wingman's aircraft. The airborne camera was not recording at the time of the accident. A depiction of the formation hammerhead stall maneuver is an attachment to this report.
Neither pilot's current personal flight logbook was located. The lead pilot held a Commercial Pilot's Certificate for airplane single-engine land, and Certified Flight Instructor for airplane single-engine land. Her most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on March 3, 2000, with the limitation, "must wear corrective lenses". She held an FAA Statement of Demonstrated Ability dated April 22, 1993, for defective distant vision, 20/400 in the left eye that could be corrected to 20/20. She also held French Private Pilot certificate number TT27029 for airplane single-engine land. Her biennial flight review was current until March 2001. She listed her total flight time in an April 4, 2000, address update to FAA Airman's Records branch as 8,000 hours, including 3,000 hours performing acrobatics.
The wingman held a commercial pilot's certificate for airplane single-engine land. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on March 10, 2000, with the limitation, "must wear corrective lenses". Biennial flight review was current until January 2002. Company records listed his flight time as "more than 15,000 hours", about 8,000 hours performing acrobatics. The wingman's Aviation Medical Examiner stated his medical application, dated March 10, 2000, verified his flight time as 16,000 hours including 150 hours in the last six months.
Both pilots had been issued FAA Statement of Acrobatic Competency certificates for solo and formation acrobatics; level 1 surface, for the Avions Mudry CAP-10B aircraft on January 7, 2000, expiring on December 31, 2000.
The French built Avions Mudry CAP 10B is a side by side two-place, acrobatic, fabric over plywood constructed, low wing, conventional fixed landing gear configured aircraft. The installed engine was the 180 HP Textron Lycoming AEIO-360-B2F using a MT Propeller Co. model No. MT180R170-4G composite fixed pitch propeller.
The configurations of the two aircraft were identical except that the wingman's aircraft was fitted with videotape recording equipment. A small remote camera lens, aimed at the cockpit, was temporarily mounted to the wingman's right wingtip and 5/16-inch diameter cable was taped onto the bottom wing skin from the lens, along the bottom of the right wing about 10 inches aft of the leading edge, under the fuselage, and into the cockpit through the left side cockpit ventilation port. It plugged into a camera that was strapped into the right cockpit seat. The videotape was recovered from the destroyed camera; however, examination revealed that the camera had stopped recording before the collision.
N82BW underwent an annual inspection on March 20, 2000, at a tachometer and a total airframe time of 3154.13 hours. The engine was installed new, on January 7, 1999, at an airframe time of 3033.7 hours. The wreckage tachometer read 3189.66 hours.
N86KB underwent an annual inspection on February 23, 2000, at a tachometer time of 2179.65 and a total airframe time of 3242.15 hours. The engine was installed new, on July 27, 1998, at a tachometer time of 2009.7 hours. The wreckage tachometer read 2214.7 hours.
The Daytona Beach METAR for 1053, showed clear skies, 10 miles visibility, temperature 92 degrees F, altimeter 30.10 inHg, and winds variable at 6 knots. Sport parachutists stated that local winds at Flagler County Airport, (X47) were 5 to 6 knots from the northwest at the time of the accident. The pattern of wreckage debris confirmed a light northwest wind.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The Flagler County Airport consists of four intersecting runways, two of which are closed. The active runways are 6/24 and 11/29 and the closed runways are 02/20 and 33/15. Both aircraft impacted the infield of the airport near the intersection of runway 6/24 and runway 02/20. There is a 5,000-feet by 5,000-feet acrobatic box adjacent to the outer edge of runway 6/24, from ground level to 2,000 feet agl, which is used for acrobatic practice and was the airspace being utilized by the formation at the time of the accident. Following the in-flight collision, the aircraft separated and impacted runway's 02/20 asphalt edge 510 feet apart. The two wreckages straddled runway 6/24, which comprised the northern boundary of the acrobatic box. The wreckage crater for the lead's airplane was located about 350 feet southeast of the centerline of runway 6/24, revealed a dive angle about 60 degrees, and the wreckage was oriented 080 degrees, magnetic. The audiotape showed that the lead went into a spin as a result of the collision; however, ground impact occurred in an upright configuration. The wreckage crater of the wingman's aircraft was located about 160 feet northwest of the 6/24 runway centerline, the dive angle was about 70 to 90 degrees, and the wreckage came to rest oriented about 360 degrees, magnetic. There was very little length to either wreckage path; however, numerous fabric and wood pieces of both aircraft drifted downwind from the in-flight collision. The high angle impact with the asphalt surface caused explosive fragmentation of wood, plexiglass, and aircraft hardware of both aircraft. The engines remained intact, but revealed heavy front and bottom crushing and propeller splintering. Both pilots were using parachutes per FAR 91.307, but neither was deployed. An airport diagram with the acrobatic area overlaid is an attachment to this report.
Examination of each wreckage for confirmation of precrash continuity of flight controls involved reassembling segments of control tubes, bell cranks, and cables whose fracture points revealed only terrain impact damage. The wingman's left aileron, left elevator, and left elevator tab were separated at the midair collision and fluttered 247 feet downwind of the lead's wreckage crater. Engine control continuity could not be confirmed for the lead aircraft due to terrain impact damage, and for the wingman's aircraft due to engine separation. Both engines' crankshaft flanges, the front main bearing and seal, and the front cylinders were displaced rearward at terrain impact, eliminating the possibility of field rotating. All rocker box covers were removed and valve train continuity was established for both engines. Lubricating oil looked new and uncontaminated for both engines. The spark plugs were pulled on both engines. Electrode condition looked new and had the coloration of normal spark per Champion Spark Plugs Check-A-Plug chart AV-27. The audio portion of the tape revealed the sound of smooth engine operation throughout the acrobatic routine, which even extended beyond the collision.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Postmortem examinations of the lead pilot and the wingman were conducted by Dr. Terrence Steiner, M.D., Florida District 23 Medical Examiner, Saint Augustine, Florida, on May 28th and May 30th, 2000, respectively. In each case the cause of death was reported as, massive traumatic injuries due to pilot, mid-air collision. Toxicological tests of specimens from the lead pilot were reported negative for alcohol or drugs. Additionally, toxicological tests were conducted at the Federal Aviation Administration Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The tests detected triamterene in the muscle and kidney of the lead pilot. Triamterene is a physician prescribed, orally administered diuretic. The lead pilot's personal physician confirmed that the drug was prescribed by him to control an elevated blood pressure condition, and in his opinion, "its use is benign and would not affect pilot performance or mental or physical alertness."
Florida Medical Examiner toxicological testing of the wingman revealed caffeine and nicotine metabolite was present. Additionally, FAA Research Laboratory toxicological tests were negative for ethanol, basic, acidic, and neutral drugs.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
Viewing of the videotape at slow speed confirmed that the wingman's hammerhead stall occurred slightly sooner in time than the lead, causing him to become positioned ahead of the lead during their 180 degrees of yaw about each respective yaw axes. The wingman did not achieve a full 180 degrees of yaw, and as a result, never became fully established in his 90-degree vertical down line, relative to the horizon, as the lead did. The wingman's roll into the belly-to-belly configuration appeared to occur prematurely while his longitudinal axis was on a collision course with the lead's vertical axis. This may have been an attempt to correct his faulty position, but appeared to aggravate his apparent losing sight of, or sense of, the lead's position. The videotape revealed that the wingman continued in the non-vertical down line until he encroached into lead's vertical down line. It also appeared that the low wing configuration of the CAP 10 prevented the lead from seeing that the wingman had strayed out of position ahead of and into her flight path until too late to avoid collision. The collision occurred as a result of her overrunning his left wing trailing edge with her left wing leading edge after he rolled into the belly-to-belly configuration. The videotape showed images of airframe pieces separating that proved to be the wingman's left elevator, elevator trim tab, and left aileron.
The afternoon before the accident day, when the team's mechanic saw the wingman installing the videotaping equipment for the next day's promotion flight on his aircraft, he told the wingman, "that it was a bad install", meaning he did not approve of the routing of the cable under the aircraft midsection and up into the left side ventilation window because he thought it might cause airframe buffeting. Reference to the videotape confirms that in the approximately 17 minutes of formation aerobatics prior to the in-flight collision, the difference in aerodynamic compatibility between the wingman's and lead's configuration appears not to be altered to the point that close formation capability was affected. Additionally, the photographer furnished videotape taken with the wingtip mounted fisheye during a test flight prior to the accident routine that confirms the installation did not cause airframe buffeting. The mechanic's statement is an attachment to this report.
Both aircraft and maintenance records for both aircraft were returned to a representative of the owner/operator and signed for on May 27, 2000.