On January 31, 2009, about 1525 central standard time, a Bellanca 8KCAB, N31254, was substantially damaged after an in-flight loss of control while maneuvering near Moscow, Tennessee. The private pilot was killed. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot. The local, personal flight was conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. Day, visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated at Olive Branch Airport (OLV), Olive Branch, Mississippi about 1513. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
A witness was outside, washing his car at the time of the accident. He reported that the weather was "sunny and light wind." He observed the airplane "vertical going up and nosed over to the right and went straight down…" He then heard a "light thud" and realized the airplane had crashed. He also noted that the engine "seemed fine, no missing, running strong." When asked about the altitude of the airplane, he estimated that the airplane was operating at "less than 1,000 feet." Prior to the airplane "pulling straight up vertical," the airplane appeared to be just above a tree line adjacent to his property.
Inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspected the airplane wreckage at the accident site. The wreckage was located in a rural area about 9 miles south of Somerville, Tennessee. They reported that there was a debris field approximately 64 feet in length. The airplane came to rest at the edge of a pond in a nose low attitude. The wings, fuselage, and empennage were fragmented. There were broken tree limbs adjacent to the accident site. A section of the wing spar and wing skin remained lodged in the top of a pine tree. The propeller showed evidence of s-bending, chordwise scratching, and blade twisting. The engine could not be rotated by hand due to impact damage. Flight control continuity was established from all primary flight control surfaces to the cockpit. Both fuel tanks were breached and there was spilled fuel within the debris field.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with privileges for airplane single engine land and glider. He also held airline transport pilot and flight engineer certificates. He was a Boeing 757 captain for Federal Express. He possessed a first class medical certificate dated December 15, 2008, with a restriction to possess glasses for near and intermediate vision.
According to the FAA, the pilot recently acquired the airplane and had logged approximately 13 hours in the airplane. He reported 10,050 hours total time on his latest FAA medical application. The pilot's logbook was not located after the accident. Friends and acquaintances of the pilot reported that they were not aware of any aerobatic instruction received by the pilot.
A review of the aircraft and engine logbooks revealed the airplane received an annual inspection on September 15, 2008. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accumulated approximately 13 hours since the annual inspection.
The 1550 weather observation at OLV reported the following: winds from 200 degrees at 9 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, sky clear, temperature 13 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 1 degree C, and altimeter setting 30.13 inches of mercury.
The physician who performed the pilot's latest FAA first class medical examination reported that there were no significant medical findings as a result of the examination. He considered the pilot to be in good health and was unaware of any medical conditions that might have contributed to the accident.
A postmortem examination of the pilot was performed by the Office of the Shelby County Medical Examiner, Memphis, Tennessee. The cause of death was listed as, "…blunt force injuries. The manner of death is accident."
Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens of the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The CAMI toxicology report was negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, and drugs.
14 CFR Part 91, section 303, defines aerobatic flight as, "an intentional maneuver involving an abrupt change in an aircraft's attitude, an abnormal attitude, or abnormal acceleration, not necessary for normal flight." Section 303 also states that no person may operate an aircraft in aerobatic flight below an altitude of 1,500 feet above the surface.