ERA09LA233
ERA09LA233

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On April 5, 2009, at 1325 eastern daylight time, an experimental Curtiss Wright P-40N, N740RB, collided with the Atlantic Ocean 1/4 mile off the shore of Mastic Beach, New York. The certificated commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight that departed Brookhaven Airport, (HWV), Shirley, New York, at 1309. The aerobatic flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

In a written statement, the pilot's son said that he and his father were an airshow "team" and that the purpose of the flight was to practice aerobatics, and that he would act as a "safety guide" from the beach with a handheld radio. The pilot's son stated that all communications with the accident airplane were "normal."

The airplane entered a "half Cuban eight" maneuver at an estimated 250 to 260 mph and when the airplane was "in the middle of the Cuban eight it went into a spin." The pilot's son estimated the airplane had slowed to 100 to 120 mph, which was "too slow," when the airplane entered the spin, and lacked the altitude to recover before crashing into the sea.

In a written statement, a former Army fighter pilot witness described a similar sequence of events, and stated that he thought the pilot was attempting an "Immelman" turn and added, "I knew he was in trouble when he didn't complete the Immelman turn and went off on one wing. The plane made 4 to 5 revolutions and augured into the ocean." The witness stated that no parts departed the airplane at anytime during the flight or accident sequence.

A third witness stated that he and his friends watched the airplane from the beach as it performed "tight turns and then a flip." He said, "The airplane flew upward, then turned down and started to spiral toward the water."

A fourth witness stated, "It appeared that the aircraft was performing a loop. At the apex of the loop, the aircraft dropped straight down nose first."

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records revealed the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. The pilot was issued a second-class medical certificate on January 14, 2009. The pilot reported 2,300 hours on that date.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1944. Its most recent annual inspection was completed March 20, 2009, at 1,469 total aircraft hours.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1256, the weather reported at HWV, 5 miles north of the accident site, included clear skies, 10 miles visibility, and wind from 310 degrees at 13 knots, gusting to 26 knots. The temperature was 13 degrees Celsius (C), and the dew point was -1 degrees C.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage was observed by an FAA inspector from a boat, as it remained submerged. The wreckage had not yet been recovered, and was not examined.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Office the Chief Medical Examiner for Suffolk County, New York, performed the autopsy on the pilot. The autopsy report indicated that the pilot died as a result of “blunt force trauma.”

The FAA’s Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing of the pilot. Amlodipine was detected in the muscle and tissue.

The pilot's most recent application for second-class airman medical certificate, dated 1/14/2009, noted that the pilot had "high blood pressure well controlled on Lotrel [amlodipine/benazepril]."

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The pilot was issued an FAA Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (FAA Form 711-1) to perform aerobatics in a "box" of defined dimensions off the coast of Mastic Beach, on April 3, 2009.

In a written statement, the FAA inspector stated that the pilot failed to file a Notice to Airman (NOTAM), and did not notify the controlling air traffic facility to activate the box prior to beginning aerobatic activity, as required by the Certificate of Waiver.

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