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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: ERA16LA010
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, October 12, 2015 in Kylertown, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/01/2017
Aircraft: MURRAY BLAIR L FREE BIRD CLASSIC, registration: N176FB
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The private pilot/owner had recently completed the experimental, amateur-built airplane and was conducting the first test flight. The pilot had completed two circuits around his private airstrip before witnesses saw the airplane approaching to land. While on final approach about 50-100 ft above the ground, the airplane suddenly descended and impacted terrain. Of the three witnesses who saw the accident, two stated that the airplane nosed over to ground contact, and one stated that the left wing dropped before the airplane nosed over. Two other individuals heard the engine “rev up” before impact but did not observe the accident. The airplane impacted terrain short of the runway in a nearly vertical, nose-down attitude and sustained extensive damage to the engine, fuselage, wings, and empennage. The tail of the airplane was twisted and bent forward over the fuselage, and there did not appear to be any forward momentum of the airplane at impact, consistent with an aerodynamic stall/spin. The witness accounts of the airplane’s nose or wing dropping were also consistent with entry into a stall/spin. Given that the accident flight was the pilot’s first flight in the airplane, he was likely unfamiliar with its flight characteristics, and, during the approach for landing, the pilot allowed the airspeed to decay. The airplane subsequently exceeded its critical angle of attack and entered an aerodynamic stall/spin.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot's failure to maintain sufficient airspeed during approach for landing, which resulted in an inadvertent aerodynamic stall/spin. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s lack of flight experience in the accident airplane make and model.