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N80TG accident description

Michigan map... Michigan list
Crash location 42.825556°N, 82.513333°W
Nearest city St. Clair, MI
42.820865°N, 82.486024°W
1.4 miles away
Tail number N80TG
Accident date 13 Nov 2004
Aircraft type Gray Skybolt
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On November 13, 2004, about 1500 eastern standard time, an amateur-built Gray Skybolt, N80TG, piloted by a private pilot, was substantially damaged during an in-flight collision with trees and terrain near St. Clair, Michigan. The personal flight was being conducted under 14 CFR Part 91 without a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The pilot reported minor injuries. The local flight departed a private airstrip near Anchorville, Michigan, about 1445.

The pilot reported that after takeoff he proceeded to a position about 7 miles from the departure airport and climbed to 3,000 feet above ground level (agl). He stated that he initiated a spin to the left. Once the aircraft entered the spin, he counted 2 full revolutions and then "centered the stick and rudder pedals" for recovery, however, the aircraft continued to spin.

The pilot stated that he held neutral control positions for an additional 6 to 8 revolutions, at which time he elected to apply opposite (right) rudder and control stick inputs. The opposite control inputs had no effect and the aircraft continued the left spin. The pilot noted that he next applied full engine power for "about 2 or 3 seconds and it felt like it had no effect."

The pilot noted: "As I got closer to the ground I again went neutral on the controls and I don't know why but the plane stopped spinning, I pulled the stick full back to pull out but I was [too] close to the ground. I estimate I was 40 to 50 feet agl when I went into the trees. I think I bounced off several trees before the plane hit the ground."

The pilot reported that his girlfriend witnessed the spin. He noted that after the accident she told him that when she heard the "roar of the engine the plane stopped spinning and when she didn't hear the engine anymore the plane started spinning again."

The pilot stated that there were no mechanical malfunctions of the aircraft.

The pilot stated that he had recently bought the aircraft. He reported 8 hours flight time in the same make and model as the accident aircraft, all of which were accumulated within the previous 90 days. He noted that about 5 hours of that time was acquired as dual instruction during a checkout when he took ownership of the accident aircraft.

The Federal Aviation Administration publication Airplane Flying Handbook, FAA-H-8083-3, stated that in absence of spin recovery techniques specific to a particular aircraft spin recoveries should be initiated by reducing engine power to idle, neutralizing the aileron position, applying full opposite rudder against the rotation of the spin, and providing a "positive and brisk" forward movement of the control stick to break the stall. Once the spin rotation stops, the rudder position should be neutralized and elevator pressure should be applied to raise the nose to level flight.

The handbook noted that "aileron control opposite the direction of the spin may cause the down aileron to move the wing deeper into the stall and aggravate the situation. It also stated: "Slow and overly cautious control movements during spin recovery must be avoided. In certain cased it has been found that such movements result in the airplane continuing to spin indefinitely, even with anti-spin inputs. A brisk and positive technique on the other hand, results in more positive spin recovery."

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's improper spin recovery procedure, which resulted in a failure to maintain control of the aircraft during the intentional spin. An additional cause was the pilot's inability to maintain clearance to the trees and terrain during recovery. Contributing factors were the intentional spin initiated by the pilot and the trees.

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