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N31SU accident description

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Crash location 26.147222°N, 80.091944°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city Fort Lauderdale, FL
26.122308°N, 80.143379°W
3.6 miles away

Tail number N31SU
Accident date 30 Apr 2004
Aircraft type Sukhoi SU-31
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On April 30, 2004, at 1415 eastern daylight time, a Sukhoi SU-31, N31SU, registered to and operated by Green Side Up Aerobatics collided with water off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, while rehearsing for an air show. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91. Visual weather conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The flight departed Pompano Beach, Florida, on April 30, at 1400.

According to the show announcer, the pilot approached the show box and climbed to perform his first maneuver. The pilot performed the corkscrew maneuver that contained 56 consecutive snap rolls. After completing the snap rolls the pilot was excited at how many he had preformed. He then climbed to an approximate altitude of 5000 feet and informed the announcer that he was going to conduct a flat spin maneuver. According to the announcer the number rotations the pilot conducted seemed to exceed the normal amount the pilot had conducted in the pass. The spin maneuver continued until the airplane collided with the water. The airplane came to rest approximately 20 feet below the water surface and 1700 feet off the shoreline of Fort Lauderdale. No mechanical or flight control anomalies were reported by the pilot prior to the accident. The announcer has been announcing for the pilot for 3 years.


Review of the pilot's flight records revealed the pilot held a commercial certificate issued on January 24, 1992, with ratings for multiengine land, and single engine sea. The pilot held a second-class medical certificate issued on June 30, 2003, with no restriction.


Review of the aircraft maintenance records for the Sukhoi SU-16 revealed that the last Sukhoi 100-hour condition inspection was performed on March 30, 2004.


Examination of the wreckage revealed the wing assembly was separated from the main fuselage. The right wing assembly was separated at the wing root of the wing assembly. The empennage assembly was separated from the main fuselage assembly. The lower section of the cockpit, firewall, landing gear and engine assembly was separated from the main fuselage. Examination of the three bladed propeller assembly revealed two blades of the three-blade assembly were separated. One blade remained attached to the propeller hub. Examination of the cockpit instruments revealed that they were all damaged.

Examination of the flight control assembly revealed that the elevator input control rod was connected at the control stick and traced back to the rod assembly bell-crank. The rod was separated at the bell-crank on the aft side of the fuselage. The vertical and horizontal assembly was separated from the fuselage. The aft elevator control rod was connected to the elevator assembly and control surfaces, when moved forward and aft the elevator surfaces moved freely.

Examination of the rudder control system revealed the continuous cable system was separated at the turnbuckles on the rudder pedals, and bent at the separation points. The left rudder pedal stirrup was broken, and the right rudder pedal stirrup was intact. The cables were traced though the fuselage though and pulley system to the aft fuselage. The pulley system moved freely. The rudder control cable was separated from the rudder control horn. The rudder cable end fittings were bent and separated. The rudder assembly was separated from the vertical stabilizer.

Examination of the aileron control tubes revealed that they were separated at the wing assembly. A one-foot section of the control tubes for the left and right aileron remained attached to the control stick. The aileron control tubes that were attached to the wing assembly were traced to the left and right aileron bell cranks. Movements on the left aileron push pull tube revealed movement of the aileron bell-crank and left aileron control surface. Movement of the right aileron push pull tube revealed movement of the bell-crank. The right aileron control link was bent and separated.

Examination of the throttle control assembly revealed cable was cut for wreckage recovery. The cable was attached to its input controls. Examination of the propeller control revealed the cable was cut for wreckage removal, and was attached to its input control. Examination of the engine revealed the engine was salt water damaged and did not reveal any mechanical anomalies. Canopy control was damaged. No evidence of mechanical, flight controls or control surfaces anomalies were discovered during the post-accident examination of the airplane wreckage.


The Broward County Medical Examiner performed the pathological diagnoses of the pilot on May 1, 2004. The cause of death was "blunt force trauma, and drowning". The Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma performed postmortem toxicology of specimens from the pilot. The results were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ethanol. Sildenafil was present in the blood and urine. Desmethylsildenafil was present in the blood and urine.

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