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On July 2, 2001, about 1800 eastern daylight time, a Moravan Zlin 526F, N526GC, was destroyed when it impacted terrain near Queen Anne, Maryland. The certificated airline transport pilot was fatally injured, and the pilot rated passenger was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local aerobatic flight that departed Easton/Newnam Field Airport (ESN), Easton, Maryland. No flight plan was filed, and the flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.
According to the passenger, the pilot was thinking about remodeling his house and wanted the passenger's opinion, and to possibly have him do the work, so the pilot asked the passenger to stop by the airport. After the two men completed their discussion, the pilot asked the passenger if he wanted to go for a flight. The passenger agreed, and went to get in the front cockpit, but the pilot stopped him, and redirected him to the rear cockpit, which was the primary pilot position. The passenger hesitated, but the pilot insisted, adding that the passenger might receive aerobatic instruction some time in the future, and that he wanted him to start getting comfortable in the rear cockpit. The passenger donned his parachute, and then boarded. Shortly afterwards, the pilot entered the front cockpit, and then taxied the airplane to the active runway for departure.
After becoming airborne, the pilot turned the airplane to the northeast. A few minutes later, the airplane entered a local aerobatic training area. The first maneuver conducted by the pilot was a loop. He then completed a second loop, a hammerhead, and an immelmann, all without incident.
The next maneuver, which was also the accident maneuver, was a second immelmann. The passenger remembers the pilot entering the maneuver at 2,600 feet msl, and estimated that the airplane climbed about 800 to 1,000 feet before completing the course reversal. While the airplane was at the top of the maneuver and inverted, the passenger felt the stick push against his right leg. He moved his leg, and the stick continued to the right.
As the airplane started to roll from the inverted position, the nose started "creeping" right and then suddenly the airplane entered an inverted spin. The passenger advised the pilot that the airplane was inverted, which the pilot acknowledged. The passenger remembers the ground approaching rapidly and telling the pilot "we need to get out." Once the passenger committed to bailing out, he reached for the canopy release, but the acceleration forces prevented him from getting to it. He then grabbed an air vent on the right side of the cockpit, and pulled himself forward. He released the canopy, and when it slid back, he reached down for his lap belt, which was now about chest level. Before releasing the buckle, the passenger told the pilot once more that they needed to bail out.
The passenger released the buckle, and instantly came out of the airplane feet first and upside down. In a "blur" he pulled the ripcord and was yanked by his shoulders. He then saw the airplane pass from right to left underneath him, and impact the ground. The passenger looked up, and saw the red and white parachute starting to deploy. He then hit the ground and was knocked unconscious. The passenger regained consciousness several minutes later, and found a group of people next to him. The passenger thinks the airplane completed 3 to 4 rotations before he bailed out, and that prior to impacting the ground, the airplane was no longer in an inverted spin. In addition, it took approximately 4 seconds from the time he bailed out until he impacted the ground.
The accident happened during the hours of daylight. The wreckage was located in a cornfield at 38 degrees, 55.708 minutes north latitude, 75 degrees, 59.978 minutes west longitude, and an elevation of 77 feet msl.
The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine-land, and multi-engine-land ratings. In addition, he held a certified flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine-land, multi-engine-land, and instrument. He also held an advanced ground instructor rating. The pilot's logbook was not recovered. On the pilot's last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical certificate, which was dated July 9, 1999, he reported a total flight experience of 7,000 hours. In addition, witnesses reported that the pilot was actively fly aerobatics.
The passenger held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine-land rating. His last FAA third-class medical certificate was dated March 3, 2000. According to the passenger, he had 475 hours of total flight experience, which included about 250 hours of aerobatics. His last flight review was conducted in a Pitts S2B, on September 11, 1999.
According to the Pilot's Operating Handbook, the airplane was an all metal, two seat, low-wing monoplane manufactured in Czechoslovakia as an aerobatic trainer. It was approximately 35 feet long, had a wingspan of approximately 26 feet, and a maximum gross weight of approximately 2,070 pounds. The airplane was equipped with a six-cylinder engine cable of producing 180 horsepower. The fuselage was constructed of welded steal tubes that were covered with a combination of fabric and metal.
The weather at the Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI), Baltimore, Maryland, about 6 minutes before the accident was wind calm, visibility 10 miles, few clouds at 5,500 feet, scattered clouds at 25,000 feet, temperature 73 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 41 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 30.20 Hg.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The debris path was approximately 430 feet long, and orientated along a magnetic heading of 320 degrees. The first item in the debris path was the passenger's parachute. The next item was the cockpit canopy, which was located 240 feet past the parachute, and about 60 feet left of the center of the debris path. The next and last item was the main wreckage. The majority of the wreckage came to rest upright, and was confined to the dimensions of the airplane. Both wings, the vertical and horizontal stabilizers, along with all of the flight control surfaces were identified.
The left wing displayed impact damage to the wingtip, and the inboard 4 feet of the leading edge. The top inboard section of the left wing was consumed in the post-crash fire. The majority of the cockpit was consumed in the post-crash fire. The right wing displayed impact damage the entire length of the leading edge. The top inboard section of the right wing was also consumed in the post-crash fire. The structure of the empennage was intact, but the fire had consumed the majority of the skin. Also consumed in the post-crash fire was the skin of the left and right elevators, along with the rudder. The vertical and horizontal stabilizers were intact and displayed minor impact damage. Both elevator trim tabs were intact, and approximately neutral. Flight control continuity was verified from each of the control surfaces to both of the cockpits. Flight control continuity could not be traced to each of the pilot controls because of impact and fire damage.
The engine was located on top of an impact crater that measured approximately 4 feet wide and 2-1/2 feet deep. The propeller had separated from the engine, and was located in the crater. The propeller blades displayed leading edge gouging and "S" bending. The fracture surfaces for the propeller flange and bolts were grayish in color, and consistent with torsional overload.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Medical Examiners office in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 3, 2001. The Federal Aviation Administration Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing on July 20, 2001.
According to the passenger, he had flown once before in the accident airplane. It was from the front seat and about 1-1/2 years prior to the accident. On the day of the accident, the passenger did not fly the airplane. However, he did follow along on the controls during a couple of the maneuvers with the pilot's permission, but not during the accident maneuver. His reason for not flying on the day of the accident was a "hamstring injury," which prevented him from applying any force to the rudder pedals. The passenger added that he saw a medical doctor earlier in the day because of the injury.
The wreckage was released to the owner's representative on July 3, 2001.