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N4LH accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city West Palm Beach, FL
26.715342°N, 80.053375°W

Tail number N4LH
Accident date 23 Feb 1996
Aircraft type North American SNJ-5
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On February 23, 1996, about 1135 eastern standard time, a North American SNJ-5, N4LH, registered to World War Two Warbirds, leased to North American Top Gun, crashed while maneuvering in the vicinity of Palm Beach Inlet, West Palm Beach, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. Some components of the airplane were recovered and the airplane is presumed to be destroyed. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The flight originated from North County Airport, West Palm Beach, Florida, at an undetermined time.

Witnesses observed the airplane flying from west to east about 1/2 mile north of Palm Beach Inlet and 1 to 2 miles east of the coastline over the water. The airplane was observed to dive towards a boat. The airplane pulled up over the water at about 50 feet and performed a maneuver described as a wing over to the left. The airplane was observed to dive again and during the pull up the tail section of the airplane collided with the water.

The President of North American Top Gun Inc., and the Assistant Chief Pilot stated the flight was not authorized or approved by the owner or the operator at the time of the accident.

Only the left and right wing, rear cockpit power quadrant, and left side rail were recovered. The landing gear and flap system were found in the retracted position. Examination of the left and right wing, and flight control cables revealed no evidence of a precrash failure or malfunction.

Post-mortem examination of the pilot was conducted by Dr. Stephen Nelson, Palm Beach County Medical Examiner's Office, Palm Beach, Florida, on February 23, 1996. The cause of death was drowning. Post-mortem toxicology studies of specimens from the pilot was performed by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Laboratory. These studies were negative for alcohol. A comprehensive drug screen by fluorescence polarization immunoassay and gas liquid chromatography revealed no drugs were detected.

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