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N54TA accident description

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Tail numberN54TA
Accident dateApril 17, 1994
Aircraft typePitts S-2A
LocationKahuku, HI
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On April 17, 1994, at 1246 hours Hawaiian standard time, a Pitts S-2A, N54TA, collided with the surface of the Pacific Ocean near Kahuku, Hawaii, during an acrobatic display. The airplane was being operated by Tsunami Aviation Hawaii, Inc., Kailua, Hawaii. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces. The certificated commercial pilot was fatally injured. The flight originated from Dillingham Field, Mokuleia, Hawaii, about 1230 hours. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed.

The pilot was performing a weekly air show for guests of the Turtle Bay Hilton Hotel. According to witnesses, the airplane was doing slow rolls along the shoreline. After completing two rolls at an altitude of 200 to 300 feet, the airplane slowly rolled inverted and descended into the water in an arcing flight path. The witnesses heard the airplane's engine accelerate, followed by the airplane hitting the water.

One witness, a surfer, had an unobstructed view of the accident. From his vantage point on the water, the surfer indicated the airplane came straight down from about 200 feet. He did not think there was a mechanical problem with the plane.

The president of Tsunami Aviation Hawaii, Inc., indicated that the pilot was experienced in performing the show, having completing about 45 shows in the past year. The president indicated that in the past he had talked to the pilot about the acrobatic maneuvers in the show. According to the president, the pilot had stated on several occasions that, "you should never do more than 2 rolls at a time because you would become too easily disoriented."

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.