CHI03LA074
CHI03LA074

On February 20, 2003, at 1705 eastern standard time, a North American/Aero Classics P-51D, N93TF, was destroyed on impact with terrain while maneuvering near Urbana, Indiana. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was not operating on a flight plan. The pilot was fatally injured. The local flight originated from Huntington Municipal Airport, Huntington, Indiana, at 1655.

A witness reported that he was working on a his barn when he heard an airplane, which he watched for 2-3 minutes, doing aerobatic maneuvers. The airplane stalled, lost power, went into a spin, and did not recover.

A second witness reported that he had been watching the airplane for about an hour doing "stunt[s]" when it stalled at the top of a maneuver. The airplane then descended nose first and began to spin. It descended to about 300 feet at which point the spin slowed down to "almost [a] somersault." He did not see the last 75 feet due to his position.

A third witness reported that he was on the roof of his house located two miles north. He estimated the altitude of the airplane to be 1,500 feet. He did not see the landing gear extended. The airplane was in a nose down attitude, spinning clockwise. He thought that he heard the engine "come back in" just as he lost sight of the airplane.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single-engine land rating and an airline transport pilot certificate with multiengine land rating and a CE-500 type rating. He received a Letter of Authorization in the North American P-51 mustang on February 27, 1992.

The Federal Aviation Administration Toxicology Fatal Accident Report of the pilot states that diphenhydramine and triamterene was detected in the liver and kidney. Diphenhydramine is an over-the-counter antihistamine with sedative effects. Triamterene is a prescription diuretic typically used to control high blood pressure.

An on-scene examination by the Federal Aviation Administration revealed the main wreckage was lying inverted in a cornfield about 1,000 feet south of State Road 16 and 0.6 miles east of 500 East. The wreckage path contained the belly scoop, oil cooler, and main wreckage. The wreckage path was oriented on a magnetic heading 065/245 degrees.

The right wing was displaced aft and the left wing was nearly perpendicular to the fuselage. Both wing leading edges were crushed inwards. The flight control surfaces were attached to their respective wing surfaces. The flaps were destroyed. Flight control continuity to the cockpit was confirmed. The right wing and main landing gear strut exhibited greater damage than the left wing and main landing gear. The landing gear was in the extended locked position.

The engine sustained impact damage and remained an assembly of the sump, crankcase, cylinder banks, and cylinder heads. The rear of the engine sustained damage separating the supercharger exposing the supercharger drive train. The engine block fractured exposing the number one and number two connecting rods/pistons. The engine was separated from the gear reduction box. Inspection of the crankshaft through the fractured sump casing indicated that all the connecting rods remained intact and located in their respective positions. The cylinder heads were lifted from the cylinder casing and no mechanical anomalies were reported.

The 4-bladed propeller was attached to the propeller hub. The propeller spinner was wrapped around the hub.

The P-51D Normal Operating Instructions manual states under Flight Restrictions: "Intentional 'power-off' spins are permitted, provided such spins are started above 12,000 feet. Intentional 'power-on' spins and snap rolls are prohibited. It is impossible to do a good snap roll with the airplane, and most attempts usually end up in a power spin."

First respondents to the accident reported that the pilot had his restraint harness buckled and was wearing a parachute.

The Federal Aviation Administration and Rolls Royce were parties to the investigation.

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