CHI05LA015
CHI05LA015

On October 24, 2004, about 1430 central daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Strissel Pitts S1S bi-wing airplane, N230SB, was substantially damaged during an in-flight collision with terrain near Liberal, Kansas. The personal flight was being conducted under 14 CFR Part 91 and was not on a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The pilot sustained fatal injuries. The local flight departed Liberal Municipal Airport (LBL), Liberal, Kansas, about 1400.

A witness reported seeing a small airplane go into a "backward spin, then it flipped up side down and stayed [in] a spin until it disappeared over the hill."

A second witness stated that he saw an airplane "doing tricks." He continued: "I watched him for a few minutes, then he was doing this crazy stunt up in the air. He was upside down going in circles. And I was noticing that he was getting closer to the ground. Then all of a sudden he wasn't pulling up." He noted the airplane descended until it impacted the ground.

The airplane came to rest inverted on level terrain approximately 2 miles west-southwest of LBL. The engine cowling, upper wing assembly, and vertical stabilizer exhibited crushing damage. The flight controls remained attached to the airframe. Control continuity was confirmed from the empennage to the cockpit area and from the ailerons to the wing roots. Cable breaks exhibited a frayed condition consistent with overload tensile failure.

One of the co-owners of the aircraft reported that they had owned it for approximately 20 years. They were reportedly in the process of negotiating a trade with the accident pilot involving the aircraft. During this time, the owner stated that the accident pilot had permission to fly the Pitts aircraft. He noted that the accident pilot had told him that he had experience in two-seat Pitts aircraft and with aerobatics in general.

The owner stated that he had flown the accident aircraft the evening prior to and the morning of the accident. He reported that he conducted some takeoffs and landings during the evening flight and performed some aerobatic work during the morning flight. He stated that the aircraft performed normally. He noted that he was not aware of any discrepancies with the aircraft.

Federal Aviation Administration records indicate the accident pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single-engine land rating. He also held a mechanic certificate with airframe and powerplant ratings. He was issued a third class airman medical certificate on November 11, 2002. His pilot logbook was not located. He reported his total flight time as 1,000 hours on his medical certificate application.

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