Saturday, July 04, 2015

Stunt pilots keep tricks inside the box: Hammonton Municipal Airport (N81), New Jersey (with video)

Stunt pilot Jason Flood had the logo, 'The Red Ghost' created for his Pitts stunt plane signifying his brush with death from a crash a few years ago. Hammonton Municipal Airport, Monday June 29 2015.

Pilot Eric Anderson of Teaneck,  New Jersey,  explains the fundamentals of his Pitts stunt plane at the Hammonton Municipal Airport, Monday June 29 2015. 

HAMMONTON — A United Airlines pilot with decades of experience flew his small aerobatics plane to Hammonton Municipal Airport last Monday for a coaching session from 24-year-old Jason Flood.

 In spite of his youth, Flood, of Franklinville in Gloucester County, is one of the leading aerobatic pilots in the nation. He competes all over the nation, and performs in the Atlantic City Airshow, among others.

“I want to fly like that when I grow up,” said the United pilot, Eric Anderson, after watching Flood do maneuvers in his Pitts Special biplane.

Flood recently got permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to open his own Aerobatic Practice Area just east of the runway at this small, quiet airport tucked into farm fields on the edge of the vast Wharton State Forest. The practice area is is a quarter of a mile off of airport property over the forest.

Called aerobatic boxes, practice areas are located outside flight routes. They provide places for pilots to practice moves such as spins, rolls and pitches, said Anderson. Their locations are publicized through the FAA’s NOTAMs — Notice to Airmen — for all pilots to see, and it is the responsibility of pilots to avoid flying into those boxes.

“It comes from being born and raised by my father,” Flood said of his success. His dad is Joe Flood, a commercial pilot known as a top mechanic and restorer of aerobatic planes, who used to run Jenny Aviation at the Taildragger Inn next to Hammonton Airport. Now he operates out of South Jersey Regional Airport in Lumberton, Burlington County.

Joe Flood said he knows of only two ongoing practice boxes in New Jersey, Jason’s and one at Blairstown controlled by Anderson. But temporary boxes are opened in various places for days at a time for competitions, he said.

Two other airline pilots also flew their private craft to Hammonton on Monday to see Flood and Anderson, giving the usually sleepy airport some unusual traffic.

Jim Mancini, retired from United Airlines and now an aerobatics instructor, flew his Pitts from South Jersey Regional Airport. United pilot and former Navy flyer Pat McKelvey of Morrisville, Pennsylvania, landed his sleek Van’s Aircraft RV-8 two-seater.

Later, John Bates, a home-builder from Pawtucket, Connecticut, arrived in his Beechcraft Debonair to watch Jason Flood do a routine. He also is learning aerobatics from Flood, and now is keeping an aerobatics plane in Hammonton.

“Small airports love being active. An active airport is a happy airport,” said Anderson, who flies out of Blairstown Airport in Warren County, but will make regular trips to Hammonton now for sessions with Flood. He estimated about 20 planes or gliders land every hour at Blairstown.

Local concerns

But not everyone has greeted the aerobatic box with open arms.

A fatal accident involving an aerobatic plane and a small plane in 2011 closed a previous box that had been at Hammonton Airport for about 20 years.

Aerobatics pilot Kirill Barsukov, 33, of Jersey City, parachuted from the cockpit after the crash and was critically injured; general aviation pilot David Mitchell, 71, of Voorhees, was killed.

Although the FAA found the fault was with Mitchell, the accident has left many in town nervous about bringing aerobatics back.

Joe Flood said he, Jason and other aerobatic pilots were greeted by hostility at the airport when they showed up for the first time to use the box.

It was Father’s Day, and Joe Flood said the operator on site refused to allow them to buy fuel for a time, but later relented.

When Joe Flood brought the incident up at a recent Town Council meeting, several council members and Mayor Steve DiDonato expressed safety concerns about mixing general aviation and aerobatics at the airport, especially since the State Police’s SouthStar Aeromedical Helicopter is based there.

If it were up to him, DiDonato said, he would have let them buy gas and then told them not to come back.

“It’s not your airport,” said Joe Flood. “It’s the town’s airport, and you have taken state and federal funds.” He said the town must follow FAA directives.

The town has since assured Flood such problems won’t continue.

“We certainly will provide fuel to all who use our airport,” said Town Solicitor Brian Howell last week. “We are concerned about safety and trust that those who use the box will do so with due respect to all other users of the airport.”

He has had conversations with the professionals who run the State Police helicopter, “and they do not see (the box) as a problem,” Howell said.

“This is all serious stuff. There is no cowboying,” Joe Flood said as he stood watching for planes while Anderson performed maneuvers. “Most people don’t have a clue what this takes.”

In addition to high-level flying skills, it requires a great deal of physical strength and fitness, Jason Flood said. Each season he must work up to handling the positive and negative g-forces involved while climbing straight up or descending face down, he said.

Part of the problem was the FAA did not tell the town about its decision to open the box, said Town Business Administrator and Public Works Administrator Jerry Barberio, who also oversees the airport.

“I was surprised they didn’t inform me,” said Barberio. “They told me in February there was an application, and I sent a letter strongly objecting,” based on safety issues.

The FAA told Barberio it was not required to notify the town, and “unless Mr. Flood violates the terms he has a two-year opportunity to use the box 35 hours a month,” Barberio said.

The rules allow one plane at a time in the box, and require Jason Flood to be present any time the box is used. But other pilots can use it if he is there.

Joe Flood said there will always be two people on the ground with radios looking out for planes heading towards the box any time it’s in use. The spotters will tell the pilot to break off maneuvers and head in a specified direction away from the other craft, he said.
He said a lack of spotters contributed to the fatal 2011 crash.

Aerobatic pilots cannot look out for other planes, as their attention must be 100 percent on what they are doing, Anderson explained.

Howell said town officials will meet soon with Joe Flood and a representative of general aviation pilots at the airport about safety. The town will decide what other steps to take after that meeting, he said, but he is hopeful the town won’t need to appeal the FAA decision on the box.

Back from near death

Jason Flood knows flying can be dangerous.

In August 2011, the then-20-year-old almost lost his life in a banner plane crash in Egg Harbor Township. He was flying at low altitude, attempting to pick up another banner, when he crashed into dense brush.

He suffered broken bones, a crushed lower spine and a torn aorta. His recovery took a year, and for a while it looked like he might not walk again, let alone fly.

His dad described how he would take Jason in his wheelchair to visit his plane, and Jason would hold the wing and cry.

The desire to do aerobatic flying again was what motivated Jason to recover, Joe Flood said.

Jason Flood calls his plane the Red Ghost, and has a ghost figure painted on a wing, because he came back from near death.

“It’s a way of saying to my competitors, ‘I’m back,’” Jason Flood said. “I’m back to haunt you and beat you.”

For more information, see or follow him at

Story, video and photo gallery:

Stunt pilot Jason Flood pilots his Pitts stunt plane in the aerobatic box near the Hammonton Municipal Airport, Monday June 29 2015. 

Stunt pilot Jason Flood pilots his Pitts stunt plane in the aerobatic box near the Hammonton Municipal Airport, Monday June 29 2015. 

Stunt pilot Jason Flood pilots his Pitts stunt plane in the aerobatic box near the Hammonton Municipal Airport, Monday June 29 2015. 

Stunt pilot Jason Flood (left) and his father, Joe Flood, check radio contact before flying his Pitts stunt plane at the Hammonton Municipal Airport, Monday June 29 2015. Joe Flood will monitor Jason's stunt session from the ground using the two-way radio. 

Stunt pilot Jason Flood lands his Pitts stunt plane at the Hammonton Municipal Airport, Monday June 29 2015. 

Stunt pilot Jason Flood lands his Pitts stunt plane at the Hammonton Municipal Airport, Monday June 29 2015. 

Stunt pilot Jason Flood lands his Pitts stunt plane at the Hammonton Municipal Airport, Monday June 29 2015.

Stunt pilot Jason Flood talks about flying his Pitts stunt plane at the Hammonton Municipal Airport, Monday June 29 2015. 

Stunt pilot Jason Flood talks about flying his Pitts stunt plane at the Hammonton Municipal Airport, Monday June 29 2015. 

Stunt pilot Jason Flood with his Pitts stunt plane at the Hammonton Municipal Airport, Monday June 29 2015.

Stunt pilot Jason Flood with his Pitts stunt plane at the Hammonton Municipal Airport, Monday June 29 2015.

Bellanca 8GCBC Scout, Heads Up Advertising, N87020: Accident occurred August 02, 2011 in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey 


NTSB Identification: ERA11LA437 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, August 02, 2011 in Egg Harbor Township, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/26/2012
Aircraft: BELLANCA 8GCBC, registration: N87020
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

After the airplane’s fourth unsuccessful attempt to pick up a banner, a witness reported that the airplane was flying about 100 feet above ground level and the wings were "wobbling." The airplane then descended, and spun before it impacted the ground. The pilot stated that he did not have any recollection of the accident or the events prior to the accident. No preimpact anomalies were noted with the airframe or engine during a postaccident examination.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed while maneuvering near the ground, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall.

On August 2, 2011, at 1500, eastern daylight time, a Bellanca 8GCBC, N87020, registered to an individual and operated by Heads Up Advertising, incurred substantial damage when it impacted terrain in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey. The pilot was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a company flight plan was filed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, banner towing flight. The flight originated from Woodbine Municipal Airport (OBI), Woodbine, New Jersey, about 1450.

The responding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector stated that the pilot fueled the airplane prior to flying towards the banner pick up area. The pilot attempted 3 banner pickups prior to the accident. He maneuvered the airplane for the fourth attempt but failed to pick up the banner. The banner ground handler looked away and started to prepare the banner for another attempt, when moments later he heard a loud impact noise and observed the airplane had crashed into the ground about half mile away from the pickup area, on the crosswind for the banner tow pattern.

According to a witness, the airplane was observed flying approximately 100 feet above ground level. She noted that the wings were "wobbling" and the airplane was not climbing although it was in a nose up attitude. Next, she saw the airplane begin to "nosedive" and start spinning but was unable to see the airplane impact the ground.

The pilot stated that he did not have any recollection of the accident or the events prior to the accident.

The airplane was manufactured in 1974 and was equipped with a Lycoming O-360 series, 180-horsepower engine. The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on February 3, 2011. At the time of the inspection, the reported aircraft time was 6698.0 total hours and the recorded tachometer was 2090.15 hours. The tachometer located in the wreckage 2236.91 hours.

The pilot, age 20, held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical certificate was issued in May 2011. He reported 600 total hours of flight experience, of which, 65 hours were in the accident airplane make and model.

A post accident examination of the wreckage by the FAA revealed that control continuity was verified to all flight control surfaces. Fuel samples were taken from each wing with no water or contaminants noted. Examination of the engine was performed and the top and bottom sparkplugs were removed and no issues were noted. The crankshaft was rotated by the propeller flange and compression was observed on all cylinders. In addition, spark was obtained from the spark plug leads during the rotation.

David Mitchell of Voorhees, New Jersey
Lancair IV P, N71DM

Lancair IV P, N71DM, and Yakolev Yak-55M, N521BC: Accident occurred August 20, 2011 in Hammonton, New Jersey 

A fatal crash over Hammonton Municipal Airport in 2011 was caused by an incoming pilot’s failure to see, and heed warnings regarding, an aerobatic plane in the area, a federal report said.

The National Transportation Safety Board published a probable cause report of the fatal Aug. 20, 2011, crash that killed David Mitchell, 71, of Voorhees, and critically injured Kirill Barsukov, 33, of Jersey City.

Mitchell told a witness that he was flying to meet Joseph Flood, the father of Jason Flood, who was critically injured in a banner plane crash Aug. 2, 2011.

He was aware that the area had occasional aerobatic activity near the runway, and the day of the accident a notice to airmen was issued regarding aerobatic activity at 3,500 feet and below. The exact altitude could not be determined, but Mitchell is believed to have approached the airport at about that altitude.

Mitchell’s airplane collided, while traveling at an estimated 218 mph, with Barsukov’s plane, which had just completed a hammerhead stall and was observed in a dive, according to the NTSB report. Barsukov’s plane lost about 4 feet of its left wind and was split at the fuselage. Mitchell crashed into the woods and Barsukov parachuted into the same woods.

It was determined that it was unlikely that Barsukov could have seen Mitchell’s plane before the crash.

“During flight in visual meteorological conditions, the tenets of ‘see and avoid’ apply,” the report said. “With (Mitchell’s) knowledge of potential aerobatic activity at the airport, it is not known why he did not use advocated collision avoidance strategies.”

The NTSB concluded that Mitchell’s failure to see and avoid Barsukov’s plane was the cause of the crash.

“Contributing to the accident was (Mitchell’s) inadequate use of collision avoidance strategies while inbound to an area of known potential aerobatic activity,” the report said.


NTSB Identification: ERA11FA468A
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 20, 2011 in Hammonton, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/26/2012
Aircraft: MITCHELL DAVID N LANCAIR IV P, registration: N71DM
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.

NTSB Identification: ERA11FA468B
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 20, 2011 in Hammonton, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/26/2012
Aircraft: YAKOVLEV YAK-55M, registration: N521BC
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The Lancair pilot told a witness that he was going to fly the high-performance airplane to a nearby airport to visit a friend. The pilot was aware that the nearby airport had occasional aerobatic activity near the runway, within an “aerobatic box.” The box was active on the day of the accident, with a Notice to Airmen issued for aerobatic activity at 3,500 feet and below. The airplane approached the airport about 3,500 feet; however, the exact altitude could not be determined due to the fidelity of the radar/encoder data. As the airplane approached the airport at a high airspeed, likely about 190 knots, it collided with an aerobatic airplane that had just completed a hammerhead stall and was observed in a dive. The pilot’s airplane cut through the aerobatic airplane’s fuselage just aft of the cockpit, top to bottom, and lost about 4 feet of its left wing. The pilot’s airplane then crashed into nearby woods, and the pilot of the aerobatic airplane parachuted into the same woods.

The aerobatic pilot and an observer stated that clearing turns were conducted prior to the aerobatic maneuver. However, the sun’s position and the airspeed of the oncoming airplane would have made it highly unlikely that the aerobatic pilot would have seen it. It is unknown what the inbound pilot’s intentions were at the time of the accident. A relative of the inbound pilot, another pilot who had flown with him often, surmised that the pilot’s approach to the airport at such a high altitude may have been an exploratory overflight, which is supported by the airplane’s high airspeed at the time. Radar indicated that the pilot’s airplane did not perform any standoff maneuvering prior to approaching the airport, and other pilots in the air at the time heard no advisory radio transmissions from him. During flight in visual meteorological conditions, the tenets of “see and avoid” apply. With the inbound pilot’s knowledge of potential aerobatic activity at the airport, it is not known why he did not use advocated collision avoidance strategies.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The Lancair pilot’s failure to see and avoid the aerobatic airplane. Contributing to the accident was the Lancair pilot’s inadequate use of collision avoidance strategies while inbound to an area of known potential aerobatic activity.


On August 20, 2011, about 1315 eastern daylight time, an amateur-built Lancair IV P, N71DM, and a Yakolev Yak-55M, N521BC, were substantially damaged when they collided near Hammonton Airport (N81), Hammonton, New Jersey. The certificated private pilot of the Lancair was fatally injured, and the certificated private pilot of the Yak, who parachuted from his airplane, was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for either flight. The Lancair departed South Jersey Regional Airport (VAY), Mount Holly, New Jersey, for an undetermined destination, and the Yak departed N81 on a local aerobatic flight. The personal flights were conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91.

Family members of the Lancair pilot stated that they knew he had gone to the airport, but did not know if he was even going to fly.

According to friends of the Yak pilot, he was performing maneuvers in an aerobatic practice area, also known as the “aerobatic box,” while being watched by an observer/coach. The airspace in which the Yak was maneuvering, to the east of runway 3/21, was uncontrolled.

According to a witness on the ground, she saw the Yak take off and commence aerobatic maneuvers. After about 20 minutes, she saw the Yak make a steep climb, then enter a steep dive. As it did so, she saw a white airplane, traveling “really fast come out of nowhere” in level flight and collide with the Yak. Neither airplane appeared to have altered its course before the collision.

An observer was seated in a chair located across the runway (on the west side) from the fueling station (on the east side) with a hand-held radio on either side of him. According to the observer, one of the radios was tuned to the aerobatic box frequency, while the other was tuned to the CTAF. The observer thought the CTAF radio was functioning normally, as he had previously heard other pilots transmitting over the frequency during takeoffs.

The observer also stated that there was no pre-established sequence of maneuvers for the Yak pilot to perform. The Yak pilot would radio the maneuvers he intended to perform, and the observer would watch them in order to later provide a postflight critique. The maneuver during which the accident occurred was number six in a series, a hammerhead stall. The observer also noted that he had seen the Yak make clearing turns prior to the initiation of the maneuvers.

The observer further noted that as the Yak was about to commence the hammerhead maneuver, it was in the far right [southeast] corner of the aerobatic box. The Yak began a push up at what the observer estimated was between 2,400 and 2,500 feet, with the cockpit facing west, toward the runway, and the landing gear to the east. As the Yak was climbing, the observer heard the sound of another airplane south of the airport, then saw a blue and white Cessna at an altitude of about 1,000 feet. Although the observer felt it wouldn’t be a factor, he called the Yak pilot to advise him of the Cessna’s presence.

The observer also stated that he believed that the Yak had completed its turn at the top of the maneuver, and was headed down at a slow speed when the accident occurred. He didn’t see the Lancair approach the Yak due to sun glare, but saw the Yak split into two pieces and begin to fall. At that point he also saw the Lancair still in level flight, but then it started to roll to the left, and about 4 feet of its wing came off. The Lancair continued to roll left, perhaps another 45 degrees, while descending at an increasing angle in the center of the aerobatic box. As the Lancair was descending, the observer was shouting over the radio for the Yak pilot to jump, and estimated that the majority of the Yak was about 1,600 to 1,700 feet above the ground when the pilot did so.

The observer further stated that he did not hear either the Cessna or the Lancair pilot transmit over the radio prior to the accident.

According to the pilot of a Cessna 172, he was returning to N81 after a departure earlier that morning, and was aware of the aerobatic activity. Approaching the airport from over the Atlantic City Expressway, he radioed on the CTAF that he was inbound to the airport, but heard no response. He continued inbound at a 45-degree angle for a “close” downwind for runway 21. His airplane was initially at an altitude of about 1,500 feet at the Expressway, but descended until it was about 1,200 to 1,000 feet, before turning onto the downwind leg.

As the Cessna neared the airport, the pilot saw the Yak climbing vertically and very rapidly, with a lot of smoke trailing it, which he assumed was airshow smoke. The Yak was climbing on the downwind side of the airport, but off to the Cessna pilot’s right side (toward the east), and he guessed that it was between 2,000 and 3,000 feet when he saw it.

Because the Yak was maneuvering on the same side of the airport, the Cessna pilot decided to cross the airport runway to fly a downwind leg on the other (west) side. As he started turning the Cessna to the left, he saw the Yak again, coming at him and appearing larger, until it overflew the Cessna “very close,” then headed straight down. After that, he saw an open parachute in front of him, which he avoided before crossing the airport to land on runway 21.

The Cessna pilot reiterated that he was sure his radio was on the airport CTAF, that no one responded to his call in, and that he never heard the Lancair pilot call in. A pilot-rated passenger in the Cessna was interviewed separately and related essentially the same observations.

The Yak pilot was briefly interviewed by a police officer after the accident, and according to the police report, stated that he was maneuvering the airplane when the control stick “suddenly went loose,” and the airplane began to tumble. The pilot then parachuted into woods, walked to a nearby road, and was transported to a hospital.

On August 31, 2011, FAA personnel visited the Yak pilot in the hospital. An FAA inspector noted that due to his injuries, the pilot was still unable to speak, but wrote on a whiteboard that he thought his airplane was hit while it was in a climb. He had entered the hammerhead maneuver from inverted flight, climbed the airplane vertically, and planned to roll it into the wind. He didn’t know until he was on the ground that a collision had occurred. He also noted that he completed a climbing clearing turn as the first of a two-part sequence to commence the hammerhead maneuver.

Radar data was provided by the FAA, both in data that was converted to radar plots, and in a moving display similar to a radar scope presentation. Radar plots and the moving display are included in the public docket for this accident.

The moving display did not include time marks, but did portray a number of targets in motion, along with some background information such as a stationary circle to denote the approximate position of N81. In addition to the moving targets, transponder altitudes were also presented, but were occasionally intermittent.

Radar tracks were correlated to all three airplanes, which were all utilizing transponder code 1200. However, as the tracks converged in the vicinity of N81, the lack of presentation fidelity made the Yak and the Lancair difficult to distinguish.

The track that correlated with the Cessna indicated that it arrived from the southwest, and gradually descended until it was at an altitude of about 1,100 feet at the time of the accident.

The track correlating to the Yak was mostly maintaining itself in an area just east of the runway, at varying altitudes and with numerous data points missing.

The track correlating to the Lancair was first observed west southwest of VAY. It then proceeded south, and about 8 miles west of N81, turned southeast before turning east. Near the end of the track, it turned northeast. Altitudes inbound toward N81 averaged about 3,500 feet, but dipped to 3,300 feet approaching N81 before climbing back up again to 3,500 feet.

Nearing the airport, the Lancair and Cessna tracks converged but did not overlap, with the Lancair about 2,300 feet above the Cessna. The Yak track then appeared northwest of the other two airplanes, but subsequently disappeared, and the entire display then briefly froze. The next return indicated a radar contact at 3,400 feet followed by another at 3,600 feet; however, it could not be determined whether the contacts were the Lancair or the Yak. A final contact then occurred to the northeast, also at 3,600 feet.

Radar plots revealed similar results, and were also hampered due to fidelity. One plot revealed the Lancair first appeared on radar west-southwest of VAY before it turned south towards N81.

A number of radar-plotted Lancair position points near N81 were re-plotted on Google Earth, and utilizing the distances between positions in relation to elapsed times, resulted in calculated approximate ground speeds of about 190 knots.

The Yak was equipped with an electronic flight information system (EFIS) that retained limited non-volatile memory with six recorded parameters every 10 seconds. Because of the length of time between recorded parameters, maximums and minimums were not necessarily recorded.

At recorded time 1311:50, the Yak was at a pressure altitude of 3,046 feet, pitch about 10 degrees nose up, left roll of about 43 degrees, heading about 115 degrees, airspeed 100 knots.

At recorded time 1312:00, the Yak was at a pressure altitude of 3,313 feet, pitch about 55 degrees nose up, right roll of about 3 degrees, heading about 141 degrees, airspeed 52 knots.

At recorded time 1312:10, the Yak was at a pressure altitude of 3,455 feet, pitch about 29 degrees nose low, right roll about 176 degrees, heading about 309 degrees, airspeed 102 knots.

At the last recorded time, at 1312:20, the Yak was at a pressure altitude of 2,314 feet, pitch 19 degrees nose up, right roll about 21 degrees, heading about 324 degrees, airspeed 42 knots.


The Lancair pilot, age 71, held a private pilot certificate, with airplane single-engine land, instrument airplane ratings. The pilot’s most-recently filled logbook was not located; however, on his latest FAA third class medical application, the pilot indicated 4,280 hours of flight time.

According to the manager of Flying W Airport (N14), Lumberton, New Jersey, on the day of the accident, the pilot stopped by and bought a new pilot logbook [which was found in the wreckage.] The pilot also discussed with her that the son of a friend at N81 had recently been in an airplane accident, and that he was going to fly over to that airport to visit the friend. The manager further stated that the Lancair pilot clearly indicated to her that he was going to land at N81. The manager was not sure if the Lancair departed her airport for N81, or if the pilot subsequently drove to VAY, and took off from there for N81.

The manager at VAY saw the Lancair depart runway 26 sometime during the late morning of the accident.

The Lancair pilot’s nephew, also a pilot and airplane owner, stated that he had flown with the Lancair pilot on many occasions, and that the Lancair pilot would normally fly a high pattern, perhaps about 1,500 feet above the airport. With the airplane’s high sink rate, the Lancair pilot would also fly a high final approach, then, with the airplane’s high sink rate, “drop it in” to the runway.

The Lancair pilot’s nephew also noted that the pilot knew that aerobatic activity took place at N81, but that, at over 3,000 feet above the airport, the Lancair pilot was likely checking out the airfield, and perhaps looking to see if his friend’s car was there.

The friend of the Lancair pilot stated that he wasn’t at N81 on the day of the accident; he was visiting his son who had been in a recent airplane accident. The friend noted that the Lancair pilot would come to N81 to visit him about once a month, including during times when the aerobatic box was active. The friend also noted that the Lancair pilot was well aware of the aerobatic box.

The Yak pilot, age 37, also held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. His latest FAA first class medical certificate was issued on April 7, 2011. The pilot reported 610 total flight hours, with 260 hours in make and model.


The Lancair was a four-place, low wing, retractable landing gear airplane. Its latest annual condition inspection was completed on October 13, 2010. The airplane was based at VAY.

The Yak was a single place, low wing, fixed landing gear aerobatic airplane. Its latest annual inspection was completed on March 10, 2011. The airplane was based at Old Bridge Airport (3N6), Old Bridge, New Jersey.


The airport included a single runway, 3/21, that was 3,601 feet long and 75 feet wide. Airport elevation was 65 feet.

There were no automatic weather reporting systems located at the airport. Automatic weather reporting systems can have the capability to transmit recorded traffic advisories.


Recorded weather information at an airport about 15 miles to the southeast, at 1254, included variable winds at 4 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, a few clouds at 8,000 feet, and an altimeter setting of 30.01 inches Hg.

U.S. Naval Observatory astronomical information revealed that, at 1315, sun bearing was about 200 degrees magnetic, and sun angle was about 62 degrees above the horizon.


The Lancair, with the exception of the left outboard wing section, impacted the ground about 070 degrees, 3,800 feet from the departure end of runway 21, in the vicinity of 39 degrees, 39.99 minutes north latitude, or about 030 degrees, 3,200 feet from the main Yak wreckage. Tree cuts, relative positions of the airplane’s components, and the direction of wreckage movement were consistent with a nose down, slightly inverted ground impact on a 060-degree heading. Engine components and shattered composite propeller remnants extended about 4 feet into the ground. The extent of the ground impact damage precluded any determination of control continuity.

The main Yak wreckage, with the exception of its fuselage aft of the cockpit and its tail, impacted the ground about 115 degrees magnetic, 2,400 feet from the departure end of runway 21, in the vicinity of 39 degrees, 39.54 minutes north latitude, 074 degrees, 45.15 minutes west longitude.

The outboard 4 feet of the Lancair’s left wing came to rest about 045 degrees, 115 feet from the main Yak wreckage, and the Yak aft fuselage/tail section came to rest about 060 degrees, 240 feet from the outboard Lancair wing section.

The main Yak wreckage came to rest nose-down, with the engine and shattered composite propeller remnants buried in the ground to about 3 feet. Both main wing leading edges exhibited significant aft crushing as did the majority of the cockpit. The fuselage, aft of the cockpit, was sheared off almost perpendicularly from top to bottom. Due to the extensive damage, flight control continuity could not be determined.

Neither the Lancair wing section nor the separated Yak fuselage ends displayed any paint transfers. The separated Yak aft fuselage/tail section, top aluminum skin, just forward of the communications antenna, was crushed downward to where it met the bottom of the fuselage. The bottom fuselage skin was also crushed downward, and the ends of all separations appeared torn, rather than cut. Concurrent with the downward crushing, the fuselage was crushed inward on its upper left (port) side and bent outward on its lower right (starboard) side.


According to the medical examiner report from the Atlantic County Department of Public Safety, Northfield, New Jersey, no autopsy was performed on the Lancair pilot. The cause of death was listed as “multiple devastating traumatic injuries.”

Toxicological testing was subsequently performed only on muscle tissue by the FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with no preexisting anomalies noted.


– Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 91.303 –

“No person may operate an aircraft in aerobatic flight –
(a) Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement;
(b) Over an open air assembly of persons;
(c) Within the lateral boundaries of the surface areas of Class B, Class C, Class D, or Class E airspace designated for an airport;
(d) Within 4 nautical miles of the center line of any Federal airway;
(e) Below an altitude of 1,500 feet above the surface; or
(f) When flight visibility is less than 3 statute miles.
For the purposes of this section, aerobatic flight means an intentional maneuver involving an abrupt change in an aircraft’s attitude, an abnormal attitude, or abnormal acceleration, not necessary for normal flight.”

– Certificate of Waiver (CW) –

On December 21, 2009, the FAA issued a CW to an individual from International Aerobatic Club Chapter 52, which waived CFR Part 91.303(c) and (d).

Special provisions included:

1. Aerobatic flight shall be confined to the area designated on the pictorial chart attached to this CW and defined in special provision 2.

2. The aerobatic area is further defined as follows: a one nautical mile radius around a point centered over the numbers of Runway 21 at the Hammonton Municipal Airport (N81) with a no fly area established between the 180 degree and the 270 degree magnetic radials of the circle which is the southwest quadrant of the circle. The altitudes included in this waiver are from 1,500 feet agl to 3,500 feet agl.

5. Before commencing aerobatic flight operations, the person authorized to activate and deactivate the aerobatic practice area shall be responsible for advising the Washington Hub FSS…of the activity and requesting a NOTAM [Notice to Airmen]that includes the following information be issued:
a) The location, dates and times the aerobatic activity will be in effect.

7. Notification shall be made to the FSS…at least one hour before aerobatic activity is to commence and notification shall be made to Atlantic City Approach…and McGuire Approach…at least 30 minutes before the commencement of aerobatic activity in the practice area. The FSS, Atlantic City Approach and McGuire Approach shall also be notified at the termination of aerobatic activities.

11. All pilots operating within the waivered aerobatic area shall maintain VFR at all times and shall be responsible for seeing and avoiding all conflicting traffic.

13. The holder of this CW or properly designated ground observer representative is responsible for halting or cancelling activity in the aerobatic practice area if, at any time, the safety of persons or property on the ground or in the air is in jeopardy.

16. Before performing any aerobatic sequence, every reasonable action shall be taken to assure the area is clear before executing any aerobatic maneuver.

22. The established altitude for this aerobatic practice area (box) is 1,500 feet agl to 3,500 feet agl.

23. A ground observer who is approved by the waiver holder will always be present observing aerobatic activities in the area. The observer will have an operable two-way radio and will monitor two frequencies.

The aerobatic box was permanently closed by the FAA shortly after the accident.

– NOTAMs –

Records revealed that an airspace NOTAM was in effect for the aerobatic area, 3,500 feet and below, from 1300-2359[Universal Coordinated Time]. The NOTAM did not state whether the altitude was agl or mean sea level.

In addition, a pilot transiting the area on an instrument flight rules flight plan recalled hearing a transmission that the aerobatic box was open.

While not inclusive of all possible means to obtain NOTAMS, Lockheed Martin-contracted flight service stations had no record of the Lancair pilot making any preflight briefing contact with it or with any DUATS (Direct User Access Terminal Service) vendors.

– Airman’s Information Manual –

Paragraph 5-5-8: “When meteorological conditions permit, regardless of type of flight plan or whether or not under control of a radar facility, the pilot is responsible to see and avoid other traffic, terrain, or obstacles.”

– FAR Part 91.103 –

“Each pilot in command shall, before beginning a flight, become familiar with all available information concerning that flight.”

– FAR Part 91.113 (b) –

“…vigilance shall be maintained by each person operating an aircraft so as to see and avoid other aircraft.”

– Advisory Circular 90-66A –

7a. “Use of standard traffic patterns for all aircraft and CTAF [Common Traffic Advisory Frequency] by radio-equipped aircraft are recommended at all airports without operating control towers. However, it is recognized that other traffic patterns may already be in common use at some airports or that special circumstances or conditions exist that may prevent the use of the standard traffic pattern,”

7b. “The use of any traffic pattern procedure does not alter the responsibility of each pilot see and avoid other aircraft.”
8a. “Prior to entering the traffic pattern at an airport without an operating control tower, aircraft should avoid the flow of traffic until established on the entry leg.

8b. “Arriving aircraft should be at the appropriate traffic pattern altitude before entering the traffic pattern.”

8c. “It is recommended that airplanes observe a 1000-foot above ground level (agl) traffic pattern altitude…. A pilot may vary the size of the traffic pattern depending on the aircraft’s performance characteristics.”

9. “Airport operators routinely establish local procedures for the operation of gliders, parachutist, lighter than air aircraft, helicopters, and ultralight vehicles.”

– Advisory Circular 90-48C –

4.a. “See and Avoid” Concept

(1) This concept requires that vigilance shall be maintained at all times by each person operating an aircraft…”
(2) Pilots should also keep in mind their responsibility for continuously maintaining a vigilant lookout regardless of the type of aircraft being flown.”

b. Pilots should remain constantly alert to all traffic movement within their field of vision, as well as periodically scanning the entire visual field outside of their aircraft to ensure detection of conflicting traffic.

– Advisory Circular 90-42F –

4a. “Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) – A designated frequency for the purpose of carrying out airport advisory practices while operating to or from an airport that does not have a control tower or an airport where the control tower is not operational. The CTAF is normally a UNICOM, MULTICOM, flight service station (FSS) frequency, or a tower frequency. CTAF will be identified in appropriate aeronautical publications.”

5b. “There is no substitute for awareness while in the vicinity of an airport. It is essential that pilots remain alert and look for other traffic and exchange traffic information when approaching or departing an airport without the services of an operating control tower. To achieve the greatest degree of safety, it is essential that all radio-equipped aircraft transmit/receive on a common frequency identified for the purpose of airport advisories.”

6. “All inbound traffic should continuously monitor and communicate, as appropriate, on the designated CTAF from appoint 10 miles from the airport until clear of the movement area.”

9. “‘Self-announce’ is a procedure whereby pilots broadcast their position, intended flight activity or ground operation on the designated CTAF.”

10. To “help identify the location of aircraft in the traffic pattern, and enhance safety of flight: (4) Notify the UNICOM station approximately 10 miles from the airport, reporting altitude, aircraft type, aircraft identification, location relative to the airport, and whether landing or overflight.”

No comments:

Post a Comment