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N51KF accident description

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Tail numberN51KF
Accident dateJuly 02, 1995
Aircraft typeNorth American F-51D
LocationMalone, NY
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On July 2, 1995, at 1445 eastern daylight time, a North American F-51D, N51KF, struck the ground in Malone, New York. The airplane was destroyed, and the airline transport pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the local flight, which operated under 14 CFR Part 91, and had departed the Malone Airport, about 10 minutes earlier.

The airplane was part of an airshow at the Malone Airport. The accident pilot was the lead airplane of two F-51s. After the 2nd pass, the airplane was observed to perform a right turn of 90 degrees. This was to be followed by a left turn of 270 degrees, to reverse course for another flyby; however, as the bank increased to near 90 degrees, the nose dropped, and the airplane disappeared from view while rotating to the right.

The wingman reported that he did not notice anything unusual with the accident pilot prior to departure, or during the flight prior to the accident.

An FAA Operations Inspector reported that he rode in the airplane with the pilot, on the morning July 2, 1995, and did not observe any problems with the airplane or pilot. Additionally, he heard the pilot order the airplane to be filled to capacity with fuel (topped off) prior to flying the airshow routine.

No emergency communications were received from the accident pilot by the wingman in flight, or on the ground, by either the airshow coordinator, or the FAA Inspector, who were together.

In a written report, the FAA Inspector stated:

...The crash site was approximately 1.5 statute miles southwest of Malone Airport,...Impact was on a heading of approximately 040 degrees magnetic, in a nose down, wings level attitude. Wreckage was partially buried in a crater. Aircraft was destroyed. There was no fire or explosion. Propeller blades, small pieces of debris, and fuel were scattered within 100 feet, in a small fan-shaped pattern to the northeast of the crater....

An autopsy was conducted by Dr. Leonard Dishman, Medical Examiner for Franklin County, New York, on July 5, 1995.

A toxicological examination by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology was negative for drugs and alcohol.

According to company and FAA records, the pilot had the following flight times:

Total Time 10926 hours F-51 150 hours F-51 (last 90 days) 25 hours F-51 (last 30 days) 8 hours

A video tape of the accident was reviewed by a company that specializes in P-51/F-51 checkouts. In a written report, company personnel stated:

...[the pilot] came to us with the declared goal of completing our entire checkout training course, which would satisfy the requirements for a Letter of Authorization in the P-51. He flew six times in our dual-controlled TF-51 between 03 and 06 February 1994, totaling 10.1 hours and completed approximately 50% of our syllabus to our satisfaction. Before leaving, and over a period of time, he was repeatedly and strenuously told that he required substantially more training, especially in the areas of high performance maneuvering and loss of controlled flight.

We...find the viewed performance of the aircraft consistent with: A. Poor situational awareness.

B. Overcontrolling a positioning turn in preparation for a fly-by.

C. Failure to discern the aircraft's degenerating energy state.

D. Failure to recognize and correct for the onset of buffet.

E. Failure to unload (relax back pressure on the stick) upon the accelerated stall (departure from controlled flight). The aircraft appeared to remain loaded until impact.

3. The aircraft's fuel capacity was 320 gallons of fuel, 140 gallons more than a standard P-51. Full fuel would adversely affect slow speed handling qualities. The higher gross weight would reduce turn capability, by increasing maneuvering stall speeds. Once departed, and not immediately unloaded, the aircraft had inadequate altitude for recovery.

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