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Accident Brief: Bellanca Viking Crash In Tennessee

NTSB accident briefs
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A witness saw the airplane fly over a lake and noted that the airplane made “a tight U-turn” at a low altitude, which he thought might have been an aerobatic maneuver. The airplane then spiraled straight down counterclockwise and impacted the lake. Video from a camera mounted to the airplane’s right horizontal stabilizer confirmed that the airplane flew very low over water. Subsequent video showed that the airplane pitched up, rolled to the left, and entered a left spin before descending and impacting the lake. It is likely that the pilot had attempted a left wingover maneuver (in which the airplane makes a steep climb followed by a vertical turn and subsequent descent), but the airplane experienced an aerodynamic stall that led to the left spin near the top of the maneuver. The video revealed no evidence of a preimpact structural failure, flight control malfunction, or loss of propeller rpm. Additionally, postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no preimpact mechanical malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation. 

The pilot’s toxicology results indicated that he had previously taken some cough and cold medications, including some that were potentially sedating. However, these medications were out of his system, as shown by the absence or low levels of these medications in the pilot’s blood. Thus, the pilot’s use of these medications was not likely a factor in this accident.

Probable cause(s): The pilot’s improper decision to attempt an aerobatic maneuver at low altitude, which led to an aerodynamic stall and spin from which the pilot could not recover.

NOTE: This report republished here is from the NTSB and is printed verbatim and in its complete form.

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