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N95297 accident description

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Crash location 39.608333°N, 77.007778°W
Nearest city Westminster, MD
39.575379°N, 76.995815°W
2.4 miles away
Tail number N95297
Accident date 27 Dec 2014
Aircraft type Piper PA-28-140
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On December 27, 2014, about 1545 eastern standard time, a Pitts Special S-1S, N49294 and a Piper PA-28-140, N95297, were substantially damaged when they collided during an approach to land near Carroll County Regional Airport (DMW), Westminster, Maryland. The private pilot and passenger of the Piper were not injured. The private pilot of the Pitts received serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for either local flight. The Piper departed Lancaster Airport (LNS), Lancaster, Pennsylvania about 1500 and the Pitts departed DMW about 1545. Both personal flights were conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the accident pilots, the Piper was equipped with two-way radio communication and the Pitts was not. Upon returning to the airport the Piper entered the downwind leg for runway 16 and made left traffic. The pilot of the Piper stated that he announced his position over the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency during each leg of the traffic pattern. During a long final approach leg at about 75 knots, the pilot of the Piper observed a "small red aircraft" on the downwind leg about midfield. Witnesses reported that while on the final approach leg the Pitts came from behind and above the Piper and converged on top of the airplane about 100 yards from the approach end of runway 16 about 100 ft. above ground level. The Piper landed on the runway and the Pitts entered a steep dive and subsequently impacted the ground.

The pilot of the Pitts reported that he was not aware that he was involved in a mid-air collision until he spoke with witnesses; however, he did recall that he flew a "tight" airport traffic pattern. In a follow-up written statement, the pilot of the Pitts reported that he entered the traffic pattern parallel to the runway 16 upwind leg at 1,600 feet and 100 mph. He flew both the crosswind and downwind legs at the same altitude and airspeed, but flew a "descending base and final" at 90 mph. The pilot of the Pitts also provided a hand drawing of his approach to runway 16. The illustration showed that the pilot established himself on the final approach leg about 1,000 feet from the runway threshold.

The operators of both airplanes reported that there were no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplanes that would have precluded normal operation.

Carroll County Regional Airport was a publicly owned, non-towered airport with an elevation of about 789 feet mean sea level (msl) and a traffic pattern attitude of 1,599 feet msl.

The recorded weather at DMW, about the time of the accident, included clear skies, visibility of 10 miles, and wind from 260 degrees at 4 knots.

Examination of the airplanes by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed that the Pitts top and bottom right wings had separated at the wing spar. The airplane also sustained substantial damage to the right outboard section of the elevator. The right main landing gear of the Pitts had completely separated at the airplane's right main landing gear strut. Examination of the Piper revealed a tire mark and compression damage on the fuselage and left cockpit window, above the pilot's seat, and another tire mark on the cowling, just aft of the propeller. The damage and tire mark on the Piper fuselage matched the width of the Pitts' tailwheel landing gear. The Piper cowling tire marking was similar in width and tread as the Pitts airplane's main landing gear tire. The Piper's propeller also exhibited a black mark with similar dimensions to the Pitts' main landing gear.

There was one witness at the fixed base operator who was operating the Unicom/CTAF frequency and recalled hearing some "chatter"; however, he could not recall any of the specific frequency communications.

The accident was not captured on radar; however, both pilot reported that they were utilizing navigational aid devices. The pilot of the Piper used an Adventure Pilot iFly 700 GPS receiver and the internet application Foreflight on his iPad. The Pitts pilot used an earlier version of the internet application Foreflight on his iPhone, which was not equipped with recording capabilities. The iPad and Adventure Pilot GPS were forwarded to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory, Washington, D.C., for data download.

According to the recorder laboratory factual report, the iPAD foreflight internet application was not recording at the time of the accident and, thus, did not retain any pertinent information.

The Adventure Pilot iFly 700 GPS captured the accident flight and revealed that the Piper approached the airport from the east at a GPS altitude of about 1,600 feet msl and entered the downwind leg of the traffic pattern for runway 16 about 1539. The Piper entered the final approach leg for runway 16 about 1.5 nm from the runway threshold at a GPS altitude of about 1,237 feet msl. The last recorded GPS data showed the airplane at an approximate distance of 1,600 feet from the runway threshold, at a GPS altitude of about 919 feet msl.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot’s failure to see and avoid the other airplane, which resulted in a midair collision while both airplanes were on final approach to land.

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