14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 13, 2011 in Conroe, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/28/2012
Aircraft: STEVENS R P/MCCRIGHT D W VANS RV-6, registration: N16DD
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Minor.
NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The RV-6 collided with the RV-8 from below while maneuvering during day visual meteorological conditions. The RV-6 descended uncontrolled to ground impact, and the pilot of the RV-8 made a forced landing in a field. The two airplanes were part of group of seven airplanes practicing formation flight maneuvers for an upcoming airshow. According to the pilot of the RV-8, the RV-6 and another airplane were instructed to move into trail positions behind the RV-8. He saw the two airplanes drift back and out of view. About 5 seconds later, the pilot of the RV-8 heard a loud bang and immediately his airplane's engine stopped operating. He did not see the RV-6. The pilot of the other airplane that was moving into the trail position with the RV-6 said that the RV-6 was supposed to be the last airplane in this formation, but instead it moved directly behind the RV-8. The pilot thought that maybe the RV-6 pilot forgot which slot he was supposed to take, so he let the RV-6 have the position and moved behind the RV-6. Shortly after, he observed the RV-6 drift beneath and then climb up and collide with the RV-8. The collision was not violent. He then saw the two airplanes separate, and the RV-6 slowly nosed over into a 60-degree nose-down descent toward the ground. He reported that the pilot of the RV-6 "didn't seem in control of his airplane" before the collision and might have been incapacitated. However, he did not observe anything unusual with the pilot of the RV-6 that would have indicated a possible medical condition before or during the flight. Autopsy and toxicological testing of the RV-6 pilot revealed no evidence of impairment or incapacitation. Although incapacitation or impairment of the RV-6 pilot could explain why he failed to maintain clearance from the RV-8, there is insufficient evidence to determine whether this occurred.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The failure of the pilot of the RV-6 airplane to maintain clearance from the RV-8 airplane while practicing formation flight.
HISTORY OF FLIGHT
On August 13, 2011, approximately 1130 central daylight time, N16DD, an experimental-amateur built Stevens/McCright Vans RV-6 airplane, was substantially damaged, when it collided with N189DK, an experimental-amateur built Douglas Knab Vans RV-8 airplane, approximately 15 miles north of Lone Star Executive Airport (CXO), near Conroe, Texas, while practicing formation flight. The airline transport pilot flying the RV-6 was fatally injured and the private pilot flying the RV-8 made a forced landing to a field and sustained minor injuries. Both airplanes were registered to and operated by the respective pilot. No flight plan was filed for the flight that departed CXO at 1100. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
Both the RV-8 and RV-6 pilots were members of Freedom Flight (also known as the Freedom Flight Aviators), which includes seven pilots and their low-wing,experimental-amateur-built Vans RV aircraft. According to their website, Freedom Flight pilots are all professional aviators, either former military or current and retired airline pilots. All are extensively trained in formation flying, discipline and safety. The Freedom Flight mission is to,"...Foster community pride and patriotism through precision formation flight exhibitions in support of community events, and through missing-man demonstrations to honor all those soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have given their lives to protect the freedoms we enjoy." The pilot of the RV-8 stated the team was practicing for an event that was to take place the following weekend. He said all seven pilots met for a 30 minute brief prior to the flight, during which time, the formations were discussed and positions/numbers were assigned to each pilot.
After the pre-flight briefing, all seven pilots taxied their airplanes out to the runway and departed around 1100. The pilot of the RV-8, which was colored silver, and the pilot of the RV-6, painted red, were the last two airplanes to depart. After reaching altitude, the pilots began to practice their flight routine. At one point, the lead pilot instructed the pilots to enter their assigned fingertip or V formations. The lead for the fingertip formation then instructed the pilot of the RV-8 to enter the slot position to make a diamond formation. The lead pilot then instructed the other pilots in the diamond formation to "go trail." Since the pilot of the RV-8 was already in the trail position, he observed the other two airplanes, which included the RV-6, move into their trail positions. He observed the RV-6 and the other aircraft drift behind him and out of view. The pilot of the RV-8 said, "After about 5 seconds I heard a loud bang and immediately the engine stopped dead. Fire shot into the cockpit through the fresh air vent and burned my left arm and stomach area. I saw the orange flames on my left arm. The flame went out almost as fast as it came." Another pilot asked him if he was okay, and he responded that someone had hit him although he never saw anyone or anything hit him.
The pilot of the RV-8 still had control of his airplane despite losing all engine power, and immediately began to look for a place to land. He circled down over a field and landed. During the forced landing, the pilot could see a pillar of smoke rising from a wooded area nearby, where the RV-6 had crashed.
The pilot that was moving into the trail position along with the RV-6 was the only pilot to witness the collision. He said that he and the pilot of the RV-6 were moving into the trail position behind the RV-8 and were approximately 2,000 to 2,500 feet above ground level (agl) in level flight. The RV-6 was supposed to be the last airplane in this formation, but instead moved directly behind the RV-8. The pilot thought that maybe the pilot in the RV-6 forgot which slot he was suppose to take, so he let the pilot of the RV-6 have the position and then he moved behind the RV-6. Shortly after, from a distance of about 30 feet away, he observed the RV-6 drift right under and then climb up into the RV-8. The collision was not violent, even though it caused a large gas explosion/fireball in the RV-8's engine compartment. The other pilot was unsure if the collision was hard enough that it would have injured the pilot of the RV-6. He saw the two airplanes separate and the RV-6 slowly nosed over until it was in an almost 60 degree nose down descent toward the ground. The pilot said the damage to the RV-6 was minimal and it appeared to be "flyable." He said the pilot of the RV-6 "didn't seem in control of his airplane" prior to the collision and thought he might have been incapacitated. However, he did not observe anything unusual with the pilot of the RV-6 that would have indicated a possible medical condition prior to or during the practice flight.
The pilot of N189DK held a private pilot certificate for airplane single-engine land. His last FAA Third Class Medical was issued on March 4, 2010. He reported a total of 1,918 total flight hours; of which, 178 hours were in the RV-8.
The pilot of N16DD held an airline transport pilot rating for airplane single-engine and multi-engine land. He was also a certified flight instructor for airplane single and multi-engine airplane, and instrument airplane. His last FAA Second Class Medical was issued on November 9, 2010. At that time, he reported a total of 37,150 total flight hours.
Weather at Lone Star Executive Airport at 1153, was reported as wind from 240 degrees at 4 knots, visibility 10 miles, few clouds at 4,900 feet, temperature 33 degrees C, dewpoint 22 degrees C, and a barometric pressure setting of 29.99 inches of HG.
Several Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors responded to both accident sites, which were approximately .3-miles apart. According to one of the inspectors, N16DD impacted wooded terrain and a post-impact fire consumed most of the airplane. Examination of N189DK revealed that the propellers blades were scarred at the tip and exhibited red paint transfer. There were also red paint transfer marks on the lower left side of the engine cowling along with impact marks. The right elevator had been impacted from the front and below. The leading edge of the right wing exhibited impact marks, scrapes and red paint transfer about a quarter of the way down the wing from the fuselage. Both of the main landing gear was spread, and the right gear exhibited dark red paint transfers.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was conducted on the pilot of N16DD by the Montgomery County Forensic Services Department, Conroe, Texas, on August 16, 2011. The cause of death was determined to be "multiple blunt injuries sustained as a pilot of an aircraft that crashed with a subsequent fire." The thermal injuries occurred postmortem and did not cause or contribute to death. Their toxicology report indicated a positive reading (4%) for carbon monoxide.
Toxicological testing was conducted by the FAA Toxicology Accident Research laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and was negative for all items tested, including carbon monoxide.
WALKER COUNTY, TX (KTRK) -- Federal Aviation Administration officials Saturday were investigating a fatal mid-air plane collision in Walker County.
Officials said two home-built planes collided around 11:45am over the northern part of Lake Conroe off F.M. 1375 at Stubblefield Lake Rd. The FAA has shut down the area to investigate.
According to eyewitnesses, a group of seven planes was flying over the area doing formations when one plane went beneath another.
The planes clipped and there was a fire in the air, witnesses said. Two planes went down. One was engulfed in flames.
The pilot of the plane that caught fire died in the crash.
The other pilot was losing fuel. He was able to land his damaged plane and walked out with burns on one of his arms.
Both planes went down in a thick wooded area about a mile off F.M. 1375. Officials said the group of pilots is based out of Conroe.
Hunter Strole saw the collision from his backyard and ran for help.
"They were doing stunts, just like flying in a V, and the back plane came up, hit the front plane, and it just fell out of the sky like a rock," Strole said.
Investigators are not yet releasing the name if the pilot who died. They said they are still trying to notify family members.
One person is dead after two small planes collided near Lake Conroe, officials said.
The crash occurred about 11:45 a.m. Saturday near the northern part of the lake near FM 1375 at Stubblefield Lake Road, according to the Department of Public Safety in Conroe.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro said the planes, which had departed from Lone Star Airport, were in a group of seven home-built aircraft flying in formation. One plane flew under another and the two crashed about 15 miles northwest of Conroe.
The plane underneath, a single-engine RV-6 with tail number N16DD, crashed into a forest. The pilot died at the scene. According to the FAA website, the 8-year-old plane was registered to a Montgomery resident.
The other plane, a 2-year-old RV-8 also registered to a Montgomery resident, crashed into a pond. The pilot was treated on the scene, officials said.
The first report of the accident came to DPS at 11:44 a.m. from the Lone Star Airport tower, a dispatcher said. Initial reports indicated one of the aircraft was a World War II-era "practice plane," according to DPS.
The wreckage is spread over portions of Walker and Montgomery counties. The body was recovered on land, authorities said. FAA is investigating.
This is the second fatal crash involving a home-built plane in the Conroe area in three months. In May, a father and daughter who had narrowly escaped a fiery crash in 2007 died when their experimental plane crashed shortly after taking off from the Conroe Airport. Elzie J. “Bud” Warren, 70, and, Phyllis Jean Ridings, 52, died May 7 on their way to an air show in Temple.
WALKER COUNTY, Texas – One person is dead after two planes collided over Lake Conroe in Walker County on Saturday.
Authorities said seven home-built, single engine planes were flying in formation near FM 1375 and Stubblefield Lake Road around 11:45 a.m. when two of the planes collided.
One of the planes crashed while the other managed to safely land.
Texas DPS officials said the body of one of the pilots was recovered from the plane that crashed. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
No one else was onboard.