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N225SD accident description

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Tail numberN225SD
Accident dateAugust 21, 2001
Aircraft typePitts S-2B
LocationShirley, NY
Near 40.830834 N, -72.860556 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On August 21, 2001, about 1245 eastern daylight time, a Pitts S-2B, N225SD, was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain while maneuvering to land at the Brookhaven Airport (HWV), Shirley, New York. The certificated flight instructor in the front cockpit was fatally injured, and the certificated commercial pilot in the rear cockpit, who was receiving instruction, was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local aerobatic instructional flight that originated from Brookhaven. No flight plan was filed, and the flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the pilot under instruction, they planned to fly several normal traffic patterns, then perform a simulated engine-out landing. They boarded the airplane, and he believed they executed a normal takeoff from runway 24. Because of trauma suffered during the accident, the pilot under instruction was not able to remember how many traffic patterns he and his instructor completed. He did remember that during one of the traffic patterns prior to the accident, the flight instructor set up a high approach angle with a high rate of descent for him to recover. He took the controls, recovered the airplane, and executed a normal landing to runway 24.

The pilot under instruction vaguely remembered that while on downwind, just prior to the accident, he spoke to someone over the radio, and had to make "s-turns" to maintain separation from another airplane ahead. He did not recall if he had to make s-turns while on final, nor did he remember what type of approach and landing he was conducting. After the airplane impacted the ground and came to a stop, he was dazed, and could not even remember who was in the front cockpit. Although his memory of the flight was fragmented, the pilot under instruction not recall any mechanical problems with the airplane.

A witness who was operating an airplane in the traffic pattern at the time of the accident, and who personally knew the pilot under instruction, stated that he had a brief conversation with him over the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) shortly before the accident. After the conversation ended, he heard the pilot under instruction announce "a simulated engine off landing." The witness added that the airplane seemed "very slow" and "very, very low" just prior to impact. He then saw the right wing "dip" and the airplane impact the ground.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight. The wreckage was located in a clear area short of runway 24, at 40 degrees, 49.854 minutes north latitude, 72 degrees, 51.633 minutes west longitude, and an elevation of 85 feet msl.


The flight instructor held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine-land, and instrument airplane. In addition, he held a flight instructor certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine-land. On his latest Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate, which was dated December 20, 1999, he reported a total flight experience of 3,000 hours. The instructor's logbooks were not recovered, but according to a witness, he had approximately 2,000 hours of flight experience in the accident airplane make and model, and flew about once or twice a week in make and model.

The pilot under instruction held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine-land, airplane-multi-engine land, and instrument airplane. In addition, he held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine-land and instrument airplane. His latest FAA first-class medical certificate was dated June 10, 2001.

According to the NTSB Form 6120.1/2 submitted by the pilot under instruction, he had 535 hours of total flight experience with 56 hours of that in the accident airplane make and model. During the 90 days that preceded the accident, the pilot under instruction flew 1.4 hours. The flight time was in a single-engine airplane other than the accident airplane make and model.

The pilot under instruction had known the instructor for about a year, and had flown with him between 30 and 50 times. In addition, he had previously practiced engine-out drills at altitude and to a runway in the accident airplane.


A weather observation taken 11 minutes after the accident at an airport approximately 13 miles to the west of the accident site, recorded the wind as 220 degrees at 11 knots, visibility 10 miles, few clouds at 8,500 feet, temperature 82 degrees Fahrenheit, dew point 62 degrees Fahrenheit, and an altimeter setting of 29.96 Hg.


The debris path started approximately 530 feet east of the approach end of runway 24, and approximately 75 feet left of the centerline. It was approximately 120 feet long, and orientated on a magnetic heading of 265 degrees. For investigative purposes, the debris path was divided into two adjoining zones.

"Zone One" was approximately 80 feet long, and composed primarily of components from the right wing and ground scars. "Zone Two", just beyond zone one, was approximately 40 feet long, and was composed of the main wreckage, along with an assortment of structural debris.

The main wreckage came to rest upright on a magnetic heading of 230 degrees. The left side of the upper wing was intact, and absent of impact damage. The upper right side displayed impact damage on the wingtip, and compression damage on the aft portion of the wing root. In addition, fire and rescue personnel had removed the upper wing to facilitate the extraction of the victims.

The lower left wing was intact, and displayed some impact damage along the leading edge. The lower right wing displayed severe impact damage along the outboard portion of the leading edge, and the majority of its wooden structural components were fractured. The vertical and horizontal stabilizers were intact, and both elevator trim tabs were deflected up approximately 10 degrees. All of the flight control surfaces were accounted for, and flight control continuity was verified to both cockpits.

The bottom of the fuselage came to rest on the ground. The left main landing gear was attached to the fuselage and compressed upward. The right main landing gear was deformed rearward and located underneath the fuselage. The main fuel tank had ruptured, and had approximately 2 gallons of fuel remaining. The fuel was bluish in color and absent of contamination. The auxiliary fuel tank, which was located in the upper wing, was intact and empty. The main fuel selector was in the "ON" position. The auxiliary fuel transfer valve, which allowed fuel to gravity feed from the auxiliary tank to the main tank, was between "ON" and "OFF."


The engine was examined on August 22, 2001, at the accident site. The engine remained attached to the airframe. Since the landing gear had collapsed, the front of the airplane was raised approximately 2 feet to facilitate engine examination. Both propeller blades were separated from the propeller hub. The No. 1 blade was located in the first zone, and the No. 2 blade was located under the main wreckage. Both blades displayed s-bends, leading edge gouges, and chordwise scratches.

The top sparkplugs were removed and examined. They were absent of debris, and grayish in color. A rotational force was applied to the engine crankshaft. Compression was obtained on each cylinder, and valve train continuity was verified. Spark was observed on the bottom ignition leads for cylinders 1, 3, 5, and 6, and on the top ignition leads for cylinders 2, 4, and 6. Examination of the right magneto revealed that it was compressed against the firewall, and that the insulation on the ignition leads had been compromised. The right magneto was removed, the leads were disconnected, and a rotational force was applied to the input shaft. Spark was then observed on all six magneto towers. The bottom sparkplugs were removed. They were absent of debris, and grayish in color.

The fuel injector was separated from the engine, and suspended from the main fuel line. When the engine crankshaft was rotated, fuel drained from the injector. The throttle cable was separated from the injector. The fracture surface was elongated and consistent with overload. The throttle plate was intact and moved when the throttle arm was articulated. The mixture control was in the full rich position, and the mixture control cable was attached. The fuel screen was removed and absent of debris. The fuel line from the injector to the fuel divider was compromised, consistent with impact damage. The fuel divider was opened, fuel was observed, and the diaphragm was intact. The fuel nozzles were removed, and found unobstructed.


An autopsy was performed on the instructor's remains at the Suffolk County Medical Examiners Office in Hauppauge, New York, on August 21, 2001. The FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing on September 18, 2001.


The wreckage was released to the owner's representative on August 21, 2001.

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