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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: WPR14FA239
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, June 09, 2014 in El Mirage, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/14/2016
Aircraft: AMERICAN AVIATION AA-1A, registration: N9454L
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot was providing airplane rides to family and friends who had assembled at a dry lakebed. He completed two uneventful flights and then departed for a third flight from the lakebed. According to witnesses, the pilot had planned to perform a low pass over the group, and he did so just after takeoff, passing within about 50 ft directly overhead.

The entire accident sequence was captured on video. The airplane dipped its right wing as it passed over the camera position and, after the pass, continued in a climbing right turn, which progressed rapidly to almost 90 degrees of bank. The excessive bank angle resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack and experiencing an accelerated stall at an altitude too low for recovery. The airplane then entered the initial stages of a spin before striking the ground in an almost vertical attitude.

Postaccident examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction or failure. Although the reason for the aggressive turn could not be determined, the pilot's overflight of the group while maneuvering at low altitude is consistent with an intentionally-performed ostentatious display.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot's loss of airplane control while intentionally maneuvering close to the ground, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack in a steep bank and entering an accelerated stall.