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.
Several witnesses observed the airplane during engine start and reported that, when the engine started, the airplane tipped forward onto its nose and then fell back and its tail struck the ground. The pilot exited the airplane, walked to the back, returned to the cockpit, and then taxied out. No witnesses reported seeing the pilot examine the underside of the tail or the elevators after the tail strike. A video recording made by one of the witnesses after the tail strike showed that the airplane departed, climbed to about 300 feet above ground level (agl), made a 180-degree left turn, and performed a pass down the runway in the opposite direction of the takeoff. A few seconds later, after executing another 180-degree turn, the airplane performed another low pass down the runway, this time in the direction of the takeoff. The airplane then entered a left turn, the bank angle increased until the wings were almost perpendicular to the ground, the nose of the airplane dropped, and the airplane descended in a nose-down attitude to ground impact. The airplane came to rest on its nose with the fuselage nearly perpendicular to the ground.
Postaccident examination revealed that the elevator trim cable was separated from the trim tab. Although it is possible the trim cable disconnected when the tail struck the ground during engine start (and would have been noticeable to the pilot if he had looked), the investigation could not conclusively determine when the trim cable separated or whether the separation contributed to the pilot's loss of airplane control. No other mechanical malfunctions or abnormalities were noted that would have precluded normal operation. It is likely that, during the low altitude flyby, the pilot inadvertently entered an aerodynamic stall while maneuvering and did not have sufficient altitude to recover.