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NTSB Preliminary Investigation Report: Flagler County Airport Crash on March 26, 2011

| April 21, 2011

Members of the Red Thunder Air Show Team before take-off, the afternoon of the crash. (© FlaglerLive)

The following is the full text of the National Transportation Safety Board‘s preliminary investigation report, released on April 19, 2011, of the fatal plane crash at the Flagler County Airport on March 26, 2011, involving an Aerostar S A YAK-52, piloted by Bill Walker. See the background on this story here. The NTSB investigates all plane crashes and accidents.

NTSB Identification: ERA11FA214
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, March 26, 2011 in Palm Coast, FL
Aircraft: AEROSTAR S A YAK-52, registration: N808TD
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.
On March 26, 2011, about 1637 eastern daylight time, a Aerostar S.A. Yak-52, N808TD, registered to and operated by a private individual, doing business as Walker Brothers Aircraft, collided with terrain during an aerobatic flight at Flagler County Airport (XFL), Palm Coast, Florida. The air show flight was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and no flight plan filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The commercial pilot was killed and the airplane was destroyed by impact and a postcrash fire. The flight departed from XFL about 10 minutes earlier.

The pilot who was performing aerobatics with the accident pilot and who was flying in the right wing position reported he, the accident pilot (lead pilot), and the pilot’s of two other airplanes were performing an aerial routine that was pre-briefed. He and the accident pilot were the only two pilots performing aerobatic maneuvers, and he reported that at the completion of one maneuver (heart) while crossing at the bottom of the maneuver, the accident pilot was to pull up to perform a loop, while he was to pull up and do a Half Cuban Eight maneuver. While at the top of the Half Cuban Eight maneuver, he had visual with the accident pilot and at that time all appeared normal. As he completed the half roll he saw the accident flight in a position that was not expected. He broadcast the first name of the accident pilot on the air-to-air frequency they were using but there was no response. He then broadcast on the frequency to “knock it off” and expected all to stop maneuvers and to re-group; again there was no response from the accident pilot. He then heard on the frequency “no, no, no”, and he returned for landing. While on base to final he noted smoke from the crash site, and he landed uneventfully.

The pilot of another airplane who was flying at the same time as part of the aerial routine reported that after completion of the heart maneuver, the accident pilot and the right wing position pilot flew vertical with the accident pilot to perform a loop and the right wing position pilot to perform a Half Cuban Eight. The pilot further reported that he next saw the accident pilot’s airplane was upright in an approximately 45 degree down line angle flying down runway 24. The accident airplane continued on the same line of flight until impact. He initially reported he did not detect any deviation during the last 300 feet of the descent.

Witnesses on the ground who witnessed the accident reported seeing the airplane continue descending during one aerobatic maneuver. The witnesses did not perceive any change in pitch down attitude from the top of the maneuver until losing sight just before impact.

The accident site was located on airport property. A ground scar associated with the right wing was oriented on a magnetic heading of 124 degrees. A ground crater consisting of piled up dirt was located 28 feet from the right wingtip location. Pieces of the propeller blades were found between the right wingtip location and the piled up dirt mound. The main wreckage which was heat damaged was located 74 feet from the right wingtip location, or 46 feet from the dirt mound to the center of the resting position of the cockpit. The fuselage from the cockpit to the empennage, and sections of both wings was nearly consumed from the postcrash fire.

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