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N675GM accident description

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Crash location 35.374723°N, 86.241111°W
Nearest city Tullahoma, TN
35.362023°N, 86.209434°W
2.0 miles away
Tail number N675GM
Accident date 13 May 2015
Aircraft type Meuer Gary D V Star
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report

On May 13, 2015, about 1930 central daylight time, an Aviat Pitts S-2B, N110PS, and an experimental amateur-built V STAR, N675GM, collided while landing on runway 36 at Tullahoma Regional Airport (THA), Tullahoma, Tennessee. The Pitts sustained minor damage and the V STAR was substantially damaged. The private pilot of the Pitts was not injured and the private pilot of the V STAR was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plans were filed for the local flights. The personal flights were conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The pilot of the Pitts stated that he was about 2.5 miles southeast of runway 36, at 2,500 feet mean sea level, when he switched his radio frequency from the THA automated weather observation system to the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF). While setting up for a 45-degree entry into the airport traffic pattern, the pilot of the Pitts heard a radio transmission from another airport and then announced his position on the entry to the airport traffic pattern. While on a downwind leg of the airport traffic pattern, the pilot of the Pitts subsequently heard another radio transmission that another airplane was approaching THA and would be following the Pitts. He then heard a faint radio transmission that there was a red biplane on the runway, but no airport was associated with the transmission. He looked for a red biplane and did not see any airplanes on runway 36. The pilot of the Pitts continued his approach and again did not see any airplanes while on final approach. After crossing the runway threshold, the pilot of the Pitts heard a "bang" and felt a sudden deceleration. He did not know what happened until the airplane came to a stop, at which time he realized he had collided with another airplane. The pilot of the Pitts had a GoPro HERO 3 video recorder attached to his helmet. A copy of the accident video was forwarded to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Laboratory, Washington, D.C., for further examination.

The pilot of the V STAR reported that he entered the downwind leg of the airport traffic pattern for runway 36 and announced his position on the CTAF using the callsign "red biplane." As the V STAR then turned from base to final leg, the pilot announced his position on the final leg of the airport traffic pattern. The V Star touched down normally and was then impacted by the Pitts.

A witness, who was a flight instructor in a third airplane, reported that at the time of the collision he was flying in the traffic pattern with a student. The witness further stated that between utilizing only a handheld radio and the distraction of teaching a student, he couldn't hear radio transmissions very well. He did recall that the Pitts pilot made an announcement that he was 7 miles out and would be entering the traffic pattern on a 45-degree entry to the downwind leg for runway 36. The witness added that the V STAR pilot had been doing touch-and-go landings on runway 36 and remaining in the traffic pattern. Although the V STAR flew a downwind, base, and final leg for runway 36, the witness only heard the V STAR pilot announce via radio that he was a half-mile final for runway 36. However, it was possible that both pilots made more radio transmissions and he did not hear them. The witness added that he extended his crosswind leg to allow the Pitts to go ahead of him as he knew the Pitts was faster than his airplane. The Pitts was also faster than the V STAR and turned a base leg sooner than the V STAR, which resulted in the Pitts overtaking the V STAR upon landing.

Review of the video revealed that it was 7 minutes, 58 seconds long. About 3 minutes, 30 seconds elapsed time (ET), the Pitts pilot began a right turn and intercepted a path consistent with a 45-degree entry to the left downwind leg of the airport traffic pattern for runway 36. About 4 minutes, 14 seconds ET, the Pitts completed a right turn and was on the left downwind leg for runway 36. About 4 minutes, 23 seconds ET, the V Star was visible on a flight path consistent with a final leg to runway 36. The V Star appeared as a small dull white flashing dot in the vicinity of a tree line intersecting a field from the Pitts pilot's perspective. During this time, the point of view of the camera was oscillating, consistent with the Pitts pilot looking in different directions.

About 4 minutes, 29 seconds ET, which was 2 seconds after the Pitts was abeam the runway 36 numbers, the Pitts began a descending left turn. At this point, the V Star appeared as a small dot above the trees. The V Star disappeared behind the Pitts' upper wing, but then reappeared at 4 minutes, 35 seconds ET, left of the nose and just below the upper wing of the Pitts. At 4 minutes, 38 seconds, the V Star was centered just above the nose of the Pitts, which was the last moment, until impact, that the V Star was visible on the recording. At 5 minutes, 3 seconds ET, the red and white upper wing of the V Star was visible just below and to the left of the nose of the Pitts, which was 1 second before impact (for more information, see Onboard Image Recorder Specialist's Factual Report in the NTSB public docket).

The weather at THA, at 1935, included calm wind, clear sky, and visibility 10 miles.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot’s inadequate visual lookout, which resulted in his airplane landing on top of the other airplane.

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