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N706C accident description

Oregon map... Oregon list
Crash location 45.823056°N, 119.277500°W
Nearest city Hermiston, OR
45.840410°N, 119.289461°W
1.3 miles away
Tail number N706C
Accident date 14 Oct 2004
Aircraft type Caldwell Glasair II
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On October 14, 2004, approximately 0900 Pacific daylight time, an experimental Caldwell Glasair II, N706C, impacted the terrain while the pilot was performing low-level aerobatic maneuvers about one-half mile southwest of Hermiston Municipal Airport, Hermiston, Oregon. The private pilot, who was the sole occupant, received fatal injuries, and the aircraft, which was owned and operated by the pilot, was destroyed by the impact and post-crash fire. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal pleasure flight, which departed Hermiston about 15 minutes before the crash, was being operated in visual meteorological conditions. No flight plan had been filed. There was no report of an ELT activation.

According to witnesses, the pilot, who had been performing low-level aerobatic maneuvers to the east of the airport, made a low-level pass over the runway from east to west. The aircraft then pulled up rapidly and climbed on a near-vertical line. As the aircraft reached the top of its climb, its forward speed appeared to became very slow, and then it was witnessed doing a "wingover-like" maneuver to the left. As it completed the wingover maneuver, it appeared to enter a spin. The aircraft spun two or three times to the left, and then according to the witnesses, its rotation rate decreased. The witnesses reported that at the point where the rotation seemed to decrease, the nose of the aircraft started to rise, "as if the pilot was attempting to pull out of the dive." But soon after the rotation decreased and the nose started to rise, the aircraft impacted the terrain and immediately burst into flames.

All witnesses noted that the aircraft's aerobatic smoke system was producing a significant amount of smoke as it climbed, but there was disagreement as to the amount it produced on the way down. Some said that no smoke was produced on the way down, but others said that once the rotation rate slowed and the nose started to rise, that the smoke started being produced again. There was also some disagreement about whether the engine was producing power during the entire sequence. All witnesses said that the engine sounded as if it were at full power on the way up, but some thought that it was not producing much power on the way down. A number of witnesses stated that it appeared to them that the pilot may have pulled the power to idle after the wingover, and then about half way down, the engine went back to full power and the aerobatic smoke started being produced again.

According to the FAA Inspector who evaluated the aircraft wreckage at the scene, there was no evidence of any engine malfunction, or any indication that there had been a problem with the flight control system.

A toxicology examination was negative for all tested substances, and the autopsy identified the cause of death as accidental as the result of blunt impact forces.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain an airspeed above stall speed while executing a wingover maneuver at the top of a vertical climb, leading to an inadvertent spin, and the pilot's inadequate remedial action in attempting to recover from the spin. Factors include performing aerobatic maneuvers close to the terrain.

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