On November 8, 2009, at 1122 Central Standard Time, a Moore Skybolt, N6644, was destroyed when it impacted terrain shortly after taking off from Quartz Mountain Airport (AXS), Altus, Oklahoma. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 without a flight plan. The pilot and passenger on board the airplane were fatally injured. The local flight originated from AXS approximately 1119. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
At the invitation of the pilot, the 17-year-old passenger and his father went to the airport for an airplane ride. When they arrived, friends told him that the pilot had fueled the airplane (later determined to have occurred at 1050) and was currently flying another passenger around the lake. Shortly thereafter, they saw the airplane fly over head and the pilot performed “a wing-over maneuver” and landed. After his son boarded the airplane, the father watched them take off (recorded at 1119). He wrote: “I estimate that when he (the pilot) was about 50 feet off the ground, he started an aggressive climb at a 45 degree angle, and then the aircraft banked hard to the right and they were heading west, still climbing. At one point, it looked like (the airplane) was in a vertical climb, and that is when he performed a wing over-maneuver, either to the right or left, I can’t remember. After that, the plane was in a nose dive towards the ground. It seemed like the wings were going back and forth or it may have even spiraled. I kept saying, ‘Pull up, pull up.’ It disappeared off the horizon. I thought it was just in a low spot and I just couldn’t see it. I saw smoke immediately after that.” According to first responders, the first 9-1-1 call reporting the accident was received at 1122.
A witness, whose wife had been a passenger on the previous flight, submitted an affidavit. He watched the airplane take off and climb. He wrote: “I estimate he was at 25 feet above the ground. He appeared to do left and right turns. Shortly after that, he made a right turn, not a radical turn, and the nose of the plane went down. There appeared to be a wobble or possibly some spin or flutter in the tail.”
Another witness said the airplane "lifted off, did a steep turn at midfield, climbed and departed to the west." He then saw the airplane return and make "a wing-over type maneuver to the right (East) in [a] descending turn," then heard the sound of impact.
The airport's line chief said the pilot was giving rides to friends. He did not observe the accident but said that on the second flight, he saw the pilot take off and perform "a high speed low pass (about half a wing length off the ground), waving his wings to the people at his hangar, and then executing a vertical climb out and steep bank (at least 60 degrees or more) before departing to the north." On each flight, the pilot would do "his same routine."
A pilot based at the airport who also did not see the accident wrote, "I noticed the accident aircraft take off on runway 17 and at midfield and at an altitude of approximately 100 feet do a right turn and depart the airport to the west at about the same altitude. The turn was made with a bank angle well in excess of 60 degrees." He said he had observed the pilot "doing maneuvers in the pattern that were not standard maneuvers." On one occasion, he saw the pilot depart and do "a steep turn at midfield at a very low altitude. He would also fly down the runway at low altitude and pull up into a steep climb and bank around into downwind."
A copy of a portion of the pilot's logbook, containing entries from November 12, 2005, to October 24, 2009, was made available for inspection. According to this document, the pilot had logged a total of 419.7 hours, of which 73.0 hours were in tail wheel airplanes (all were in the Skybolt). Of this latter figure, 50.0 hours were listed as “YTD” (year-to-date) between October 20, 2007, to January 12, 2008. It was not listed as dual, solo, or pilot-in-command; only as total time. Of the remaining 23.0 hours of documented Skybolt time, 12.7 hours were dual instruction and 10.3 hours were pilot-in-command.
The only aerobatic entries made were the following:
November 14, 2005, Tail wheel introduction, loops, rolls, hammerheads, stalls. The entry was logged as dual instruction and signed by the instructor.
July 26, 2008, Aileron rolls. The entry was logged as dual instruction but was not signed by an instructor.
February 25, 2009, Lazy emblems (sic). The entry was logged as dual instruction but was not signed by an instructor.
The pilot’s last biennial flight review was dated June 5, 2009, and included the following: “Stalls power on /off, steep turns, S-turns, turns on a point, landing attitude demonstration, emergency procedures, lazy 8’s.” Ten days later, on June 15, 2009, a “first solo” entry was made. On July 14, 2009, the entry “4th air show” was made.
According to Altus Airport officials, they were unaware that the pilot had performed low-level maneuvers in their traffic pattern prior to the accident. No complaints about the pilot were ever received by FAA’s Flight Standards District Offices in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Lubbock, Texas.
The autopsy reports attributed both the pilot and passenger’s deaths to “multiple blunt force trauma”. No carbon monoxide was detected in either victim. In addition, no ethyl alcohol or cyanide was detected in the pilot.