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N330MT accident description

Nevada map... Nevada list
Crash location 39.806667°N, 115.202778°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 Henderson, NV
36.039699°N, 114.981937°W
260.6 miles away
Tail number N330MT
Accident date 30 Apr 2016
Aircraft type Extra FLUGZEUGPRODUKTIONS-UND Ea 300/L
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On April 30, 2016, about 1624 Pacific daylight time, an EXTRA Flugzeugproduktions-und Vertriebs, EA-300/L airplane, N330MT, was destroyed when it impacted terrain about 10 miles south of Henderson Executive Airport (HND), Las Vegas, Nevada. The airline transport pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Vegas Extreme Adventures LLC, doing business as Sky Combat Ace (SCA), under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local instructional flight, which departed HND about 1603.

The accident airplane departed and rendezvoused with two other company airplanes to conduct a simulated air-to-air combat mission. The mission profile included two airplanes at a time maneuvering against each other, while the third airplane observed from a higher altitude and safe distance. Following completion of the air combat mission, all three airplanes began the return flight to HND. During the return, the airplanes flew a planned low-level bombing run simulation. After landing at HND, the pilots of the first two airplanes realized that the third airplane had not returned. The operator's pilots subsequently notified HND tower and the company. The company initiated an aerial search, and the wreckage was located shortly thereafter.

The accident airplane was equipped with both a GoPro Hero and a Garmin VIRB onboard camera system. The GoPro Hero camera was mounted in the front seat instrument panel and faced backwards, in order to record the front seat occupant. The Garmin VIRB camera was forward facing and mounted on the right side of the rear seat at the instrument panel. Both cameras were recovered from the accident site and sent to the NTSB's Vehicle Recorder Laboratory for download. The GoPro Hero card contained two files that captured the accident flight. The Garmin VIRB card captured the accident flight and cockpit communications. A complete report on the recorded flight data is available in the public docket.

The recorded data began on the airport ramp area and revealed weather conditions that included scattered clouds and a high overcast layer. The accident pilot and passenger discussed the recent weather as rain droplets collected on the airplane's surfaces. Both the pilot and passenger were wearing parachutes. The passenger was seated in the front seat and the pilot was seated in the rear seat. Another company airplane (Ace 4) checked the formation in on the radio and called for taxi clearance, for the three airplanes. The accident airplane (Ace 1) began taxing behind Ace 4 (the lead airplane): the other airplane in the formation was Ace 2. The timing of the recorded data referenced below, is expressed in video elapsed time, which is the minutes and seconds from the beginning of the recordings.

At 08:55 elapsed time, the accident airplane took off from runway 35L. After reaching about 200 ft agl, as indicated by the altimeter in the forward panel, the pilot initiated a hard left turn. The airplane climbed to its cruise altitude of 3,500 ft msl.

At 11:40, the three airplanes flew south towards the practice area and accomplished a simulated gun check. The accident pilot led the passenger through some shallow bank maneuvers, where they simulated setting up to shoot another airplane. The altimeter indicated 3,900 ft msl. At 15:00, the airplanes continued to fly south, and the accident airplane was instructed to set up to watch the Ace 4 and Ace 2 maneuver for a simulated "dogfight." The altitudes given to maintain for the simulated dogfight were between 5,000 ft and 7,000 ft msl. The accident airplane maneuvered in slight banking turns as the other two airplanes maneuvered for a simulated dogfight.

At 18:30, the first dogfight between the other airplanes had ended. The accident airplane was then instructed to set up for the next simulated dogfight. At 19:38, the accident airplane maneuvered for their first simulated dogfight. The passenger appeared to be manipulating the controls. After about 2 minutes, the dogfight was terminated and another one shortly thereafter.

At 23:15, the pilot asked the passenger how he was doing? The passenger responded that he was "doing pretty rough." The pilot asked the passenger to let him know if he started to feel airsick and the passenger confirmed that he was ready for one more simulated air-to-air engagement.

At 23:35, the accident airplane began a third simulated engagement and achieved a successful "kill" at 24:38. At that time, the pilot, indicated that he was going to stop the simulated dogfighting with the other airplanes and set up to watch them. The accident airplane climbed to 7,000 ft msl, and the passenger expressed that he was "not feeling well." The accident pilot responded that he "would not be doing any crazy turning or anything like that."

At 25:35, Ace 4, radioed that he was calling off the next simulated dogfight and the flight of three would return to HND. Ace 4 informed the other airplanes that during the return their position would be "fighting wing" with the accident airplane as the last airplane in trail. The pilot of another airplane in the formation radioed that they would finish up flying a low-level bomb run. The accident pilot informed the passenger, that he would keep it smooth for him, then radioed the formation that he was going to "keep it pretty PG back here." The other pilots in the formation acknowledged and replied: "sounds good, you guys tame it down to however you like it."

As the accident airplane descended towards the desert floor, the passenger readied an air sickness bag. The accident pilot restated that he was going to keep the airplane nice and smooth and instructed his passenger to take care of himself. Shortly, thereafter, the accident passenger became actively airsick and adjusted his headset microphone away from his face. The accident pilot transmitted over the radio that "One's code three."

At 28:51, the accident airplane was flying low level over the desert floor. The front seat altimeter indicated 2,750 ft msl and the indicated airspeed 185 knots. The passenger continued to be actively airsick. At 28:56, the passenger began to tie off his airsickness bag. Rain was seen beading up on the accident airplane's windscreen and the sky condition was overcast with a high ceiling, similar to the weather conditions observed during the simulated dogfights.

At 29:26, the accident airplane began climbing as it approached a ridgeline. Despite the rain accumulating on the windscreen, the forward visibility appeared to be unobstructed and the ridgeline was not obscured by cloud cover. At 29:37, the accident airplane was in a shallow climb and the accident pilot transmitted "you guys are leaving some pretty sweet vapor trails." At 29:46, the shallow pitch increased slightly, and the rain continued to bead on the airplane's canopy. The rain did not obstruct the forward view and the ridgeline was still clearly visible. The airplane's airspeed indicator read about 175 knots and the altimeter indicated 3,150 ft msl. The accident pilot then stated, "I'm going to take it nice and easy here." The airplane continued to approach the ridgeline in a shallow climb and an indicated airspeed just over 170 knots. The forward facing, Garmin VIRB camera stopped recording as the accident airplane was just approaching the ridgeline of the dry lake bed about 15 seconds before impact.

The GoPro Hero camera recorded the accident airplane perform 3 check turns before crossing the ridgeline and one after. The airplane crossed the first ridgeline and leveled off briefly and then began a shallow wings-level descent. There was some rain beading on the canopy; however, the visibility around the airplane was not degraded. The airplane then rolled into a slight right turn as it continued to descend towards the valley floor. Seconds later, the passenger was seen yelling: however, his microphone was not near his mouth. Almost simultaneously, at 30:18, the airplane impacted a small hill that rose from the valley floor. At the time of impact, the airplane was in a slight left bank and shallow climb.

The accident pilot did not indicate any anomalies before impact and the airplane was in stable flight with no attempted maneuver to avoid terrain.

Video from Ace 2 was also reviewed. Ace 2 was flying as the number two position in the formation, in front of the accident airplane. Ace 2 was maneuvering at a low attitude on the desert floor near the Jean dry lakebed and appeared to be flying about the same altitude above the ground as the accident airplane. Rain impacted Ace 2's windscreen as it maneuvered around a ridge adjacent to the dry lakebed. The rain did not appear to significantly degrade visibility and Ace 2 remained in VFR conditions. When compared to the accident airplane's video, Ace 2 encountered heavier rain. The flight path where the accident airplane was observed, was west of their position and the weather conditions near the accident airplane appeared to be better.

Ace 2 cleared the ridgeline and performed slight clearing turns as it descended back towards the valley floor. Once it reached level flight just above the valley floor, the accident airplane came into view behind and could be seen descending towards the valley floor. Once the accident airplane crossed above the first ridgeline, it was difficult to see, because it was no longer silhouetted against the overcast skies. A small hill comprised of rocks came into view behind and to the left of Ace 2, where the accident airplane was flying. Moments later, a white plume was observed on top of the hill. During the low-level, Ace 2 performed 8 clearing turns during the low-level flight before the accident. Following the accident, Ace 2 continued flying normally and the pilot and passenger seemed to be unaware of the accident airplane's impact with terrain, since the impact occurred outside their field of view.


The pilot, age 37, held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multi-engine land. He also held a flight instructor certificate with airplane single and multi-engine ratings. The pilot was issued a first class Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman medical certificate on September 2, 2014. At the time of the accident, this medical certificate was valid only for third class purposes with no limitations. The pilot reported on the application for that medical certificate that he had accumulated 7,118 total hours of flight experience, with 200 hours in the previous 6 months.

Information provided by the operator revealed that the pilot had over 17 years of professional flying experience and had been flying aerobatics for 19 years, in a variety of aerobatic airplanes. He had been employed by SCA since August 2015.

According to the other pilots in the formation who flew against him on the day of the accident, the pilot appeared to be in good health and disposition. According to SCA, the accident pilot had taken the previous 2 days off and the accident flight was his second flight of the day. He had routinely flown the EA-300/L on company missions throughout his employment with SCA.


The tandem-seat, low-wing, acrobatic-category airplane was equipped with dual controls and was manufactured in 2011. A review of maintenance logbooks revealed that the most recent annual inspection was completed on January 2, 2016, at an airplane hour meter time of 619.9 hours. The engine received a 100-hour inspection on February 23, 2016, at an hour meter time of 719.3 hours and 719.3 hours since overhaul.

During the accident flight, the flight instructor was seated in the rear seat, and due to the tandem seating configuration, forward visibility was restricted by the forward portion of the airplane. No specific information about the rear seat visibility was available from the manufacturer, however, utilizing airplane drawings from the manufacturer, forward visibility from the rear seat, during level flight, was estimated to be limited between 7.5° left and right of centerline, and below more than about 8° below the nose of the airplane. The rear seat visibility limitations do not account for the additional limitations potentially imposed by the front seat passenger. The airplane's Pilot Operating Handbook states that solo flights will be accomplished from the rear seat.


At 1636, the automated weather observation station at HND, reported wind from 120° at 8 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, few clouds at 4,100 ft, scattered clouds at 7,000 ft, overcast cloud base at 9,500 ft, temperature 16° C, dew point 9° C, and an altimeter setting of 29.79 inches of mercury. Remarks included: station with a precipitation discriminator, wind shift at 1555, lightning more than ten miles away to the north and northeast, thunderstorm ended at 1630, and rain began at 1559, and rain ended at 1620, trace precipitation in last hour.

An unofficial meteorological reporting station located about 6 miles east-southeast of the accident site, reported wind from 011° magnetic at 11 mph at 1625. Another unofficial meteorological reporting station located about 5 miles south of the accident site, reported wind from 074° magnetic at 8 mph at 1627.

Weather radar imagery depicted high reflectivity values consistent with heavy rain and reflectivity patterns consistent with convection moving through the accident site immediately before the accident time. About 1632, immediately following the passage of the convective feature, a small area of light reflectivity was identified over the accident location.

One AIRMET advisory active for mountain obscuration was active for the accident location for altitudes below 8,000 ft. No SIGMETS advisories were active for the accident location at the time of the accident. Several convective SIGMETS were active for the accident location at the accident time for thunderstorms moving into the area.


Examination of the accident site by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), investigator-in-charge, revealed that the airplane impacted terrain, near the top of a hill, at an elevation of about 3,101 ft mean sea level (msl). The hill was comprised of dark-brown-colored lava rocks and its approximate dimensions were about 650 ft long by 350 ft wide, with a peak elevation about 3,109 ft. The contour of the hill was orientated northeast/southwest. The desert floor to the southwest of the hill, from where the accident airplane approached, was about 40-50 ft lower than the hill elevation. The hill was about 3,000 ft northeast of the dry lake bed ridgeline.

The first identified point of contact was an area of disturbed rocks and dirt near the top of the hill, which measured about 4 ft long, 3 ft wide, and 6 inches deep, and was located southeast of the main wreckage. Numerous small pieces of wreckage and paint transfer on the rocks were observed at the initial impact point, and all the major components of the airplane were located along the debris path, which was about 800 ft long and oriented on a heading about 030° magnetic, or with the main wreckage.

Most of the debris consisted of small fragments of the airplane. The wings separated from the fuselage and large wing fragments were located on the northwest side of the hill about 200 ft from the initial impact point. The left aileron remained attached to an aft section of the wing. The right aileron was separated and located near the wing fragments. The fuselage and tail section came to rest upright about 400 ft from the initial impact point on a heading about 250° magnetic, and was leaning to the left.

The engine separated from the fuselage and came to rest inverted about 400 ft past the main wreckage, where it struck and breached a wire fence. All the tubing and mounts were separated, and the bottom of the engine case was breached. The propeller blades were separated from the hub, and blade fragments were observed near the initial ground impact scars.

The wreckage was recovered to a secure facility for furth

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to monitor and maintain clearance with terrain while maneuvering at low level.

Contributing to the accident, was the pilot's failure to conduct an adequate amount of clearing turns while maneuvering at low level.

© 2009-2020 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.