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N41702 accident description

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Tail numberN41702
Accident dateMay 19, 1994
Aircraft typeVickers Spitfire Mark Xviii
LocationGreat Falls, MT
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On May 19, 1994, approximately 1740 mountain daylight time (MDT), a Vickers Supermarine Spitfire Mark XVIII, N41702, impacted the terrain about 41 miles east of Great Falls Airport, Great Falls, Montana. The airline transport rated pilot, who was the sole occupant of the aircraft, received fatal injuries, and the aircraft was destroyed. According to witnesses on the ground, the personal pleasure flight, which departed Billings Logan International Airport, Billings, Montana, at 1648 MDT, was operating in an area were the ceiling was less than 1,000 feet, and the visibility was occasionally less than three miles. No flight plan had been filed, and there was no report of an ELT activation.

According to individuals in an accompanying aircraft, the flight of two had entered an area where the clouds had lowered to ground level on some of the ridges, and visibility was reduced by numerous surrounding rain showers. While maneuvering through the area in an attempt to find a passable route to Great Falls, the two aircraft became separated, and the accompanying aircraft climbed through instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), to visual meteorological conditions (VMC) above. The two aircraft maintained radio contact for about five minutes, discussing whether they should meet at an airport, or whether the Spitfire pilot would "...get on top...", and rejoin in the air. At the end of the five minute period,, the pilot of the Spitfire said, "I'm going to climb now." No further visual or radio contact was made after this final transmission.

A review of the aircraft's log books, and a discussion with the aircraft's owner, revealed that the World War II vintage fighter was not certified for flight in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC).

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