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N33PE accident description

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Tail numberN33PE
Accident dateJune 14, 1995
Aircraft typeWalter W. Bell Lazer Edge
LocationEl Reno, OK
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On June 14, 1995, at 1010 central daylight time, a Bell Lazer Edge, N33PE, was destroyed following a loss of control while maneuvering near El Reno, Oklahoma. The private pilot was fatally injured. The experimental airplane, owned by Walter W. Bell, was being operated under with Title 14 CFR Part 91 with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Certificate of Waiver for aerobatic flight when the accident occurred. The flight originated from the El Reno Municipal Airpark at 0955 CDT. A flight plan was not filed and visual meteorological conditions prevailed.

A National Aerobatic Judge, who observed and critiqued the pilot's aerobatic flying from a reviewing stand, reported that the first practice session started approximately 0840 and lasted about 35 minutes. During the session, the pilot practiced his "intermediate sequences" consisting of "45 degree up lines and 45 degree down lines, plus vertical up and down lines." A critique was accomplished via radio between the pilot and the judge. At the end of the session, the pilot landed, debriefed, and rested for about 35 to 40 minutes. Following the debrief, the pilot stated that, he wanted to fly again to practice his intermediate "free style" sequence, and requested that the judge remained to monitor a second practice flight.

The pilot departed on his second flight approximately 0955, and according to the judge, "flew the intermediate sequence with no difficulty." The pilot then stated (via radio) to the judge that he was not satisfied with his "snap rolls", and was going to practice three or four more. [The "snap roll" maneuver is executed by pitching the nose of the aircraft up sharply, while simultaneously adding full rudder in the desired direction of roll, effecting the aircraft to "snap" into a 360 degree roll.] According to the judge, the pilot completed three or four snap rolls and "proceeded to make a 270 degree turn to the left, apparently in preparation to enter a left down wind to land on runway 17L."

The judge further reported that, the pilot then executed a snap roll to the right, with the airplane "over snapping 1/4 of a turn" to the right, and recovering in a "knife edge" [approximately a 90 degree bank], and "nose low" attitude. The airplane then snapped to the left, with a wings level recovery, "but the nose [was] extremely low in a 30-40 degree nose low attitude." During these maneuvers the aircraft had been "rapidly losing altitude and was about 400 feet above the ground." Mr. White then observed the nose "pitch up" and heard an application of engine power. The aircraft then "broke to the left, doing a 3/4 or more spin, before impacting the ground and exploding into a fireball." A detailed statement from the judge is attached to this report.

Two additional witnesses, who were both near the accident site, observed the airplane in a nose low attitude just prior to ground impact.

In an interview with a FAA inspector, the judge stated that the pilot received dual aerobatic training about 3 years ago. He estimated that the pilot had about 75 hours in the Lazer Edge. He further stated that, he had been urging the pilot to get spin training, and to the best of his knowledge, had not done so.

Another witness, reported that the pilot had performed "some maintenance" on the airplane about 4-6 weeks prior to the accident. The pilot told the witness that, the elevator play prevented him from "being crisp enough on his aerobatic maneuvers." The witness stated that the pilot performed some maintenance on the flight controls to improve the elevator play. He further stated that, he was not exactly sure what was done, but he knows it involved "some welding and some shims."

According to FAA records, the pilot held a valid airframe and powerplant (A&P) certificate. Examination of the flight control system, that was not damaged by impact forces and fire, by a FAA airworthiness inspector, did not reveal evidence of a flight control failure prior to impact. Statements from the witness that related the flight control maintenance performed, and the FAA airworthiness inspector are attached to this report.

According to FAA records, the airplane was issued an experimental category, special airworthiness certificate, on April 4, 1992. No defects or anomalies were discovered in the engine and airframe logbooks. The airplane's total time as of May 5, 1995, was recorded as 612.8 hours.

Toxicology tests for the pilot were negative.

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