ASF Accident Details
NTSB Number: CEN12LA112
Aircraft and Flight Information
Tail Number N161PC
Airport MRT
Light Conditions Day
Basic WX Conditions VMC
Phase of Flight Not Reported
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Narrative Type: NTSB FINAL NARRATIVE (6120.4)
The pilot was performing low-level aerobatics for a ground-based observer for the purpose of renewing his low-level aerobatic competency waiver. As the airplane was pulling out from a dive while performing a maneuver described by the observer as a “modified clover-leaf/split-‘S’,” the airplane struck the ground in a wings-level attitude. The observer noted that nothing sounded out of the ordinary with respect to engine operation during the flight. Examination of the airplane after the accident revealed no anomalies that could be attributed to a preexisting failure or malfunction. Based on the witness description and the postaccident examination, it is likely that the pilot misjudged the aerobatic maneuver and had insufficient altitude to recover from the ensuing dive.
Narrative Type: NTSB PRELIMINARY NARRATIVE (6120.19)
On December 22, 2011, about 1155 eastern standard time, an American Champion model 8KCAB, N161PC, impacted the ground while maneuvering near the Union County Airport (MRT), Marysville, Ohio. The pilot was performing aerobatics for a re-issuance of his unlimited aerobatic competency card. The pilot, who was the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to its fuselage and wings. The aircraft was registered to and operated by the commercial pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight had originated from MRT minutes prior to the accident.

A witness to the accident reported that he was observing the flight for the purpose of evaluating the pilot for the re-issuance of his unlimited aerobatic competency card. He said that he was positioned on the ramp at the airport and had seen the pilot fly several times prior to the accident flight. He said that the pilot’s current aerobatic competency card had not expired. The witness reported that the pilot was to fly his normal airshow routine and the witness would make his evaluation based on that performance. The witness said that the pilot performed a takeoff from runway 27 and when the airplane was about 3/4 down the runway, it turned left in an 80-degree bank turn to the south. The airplane then turned back to the east and performed a maneuver described as a “modified clover-leaf/split-“S” and struck the ground. The witness reported that the airplane was never higher than 300 feet above the ground (agl) during the entire flight. The witness reported that nothing sounded out of the ordinary with respect to engine operation.

A clover-leaf is an aerobatic maneuver in which the airplane is pulled into an upward vertical attitude at which time a 90-degree roll is performed followed by using up-elevator to complete a loop. The maneuver when repeated 4 times results in a flight path resembling the 4 leaves of a 4-leaf clover. A split-“S” is an aerobatic maneuver in which the airplane is rolled into and inverted attitude followed by the second half of a loop downward.

The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with airplane multiengine land rating. The certificate also listed commercial pilot privileges for airplane single-engine land, helicopter, instrument helicopter and glider ratings. The pilot also held a flight instructor certificate with airplane single and multiengine, and instrument airplane ratings. His most recent first class medical certificate was issued on June 6, 2011, with no restrictions. The pilot’s flight logbook was not reviewed during the investigation; however, the pilot reported having 2,000 civilian flight hours on his most recent application for his medical certificate.

The pilot had also flown helicopters and airplanes while serving various branches of the United States Armed Forces. Most recently, he flew Lockheed C-130 airplanes for the Air National Guard. His total military flight time was reported as 5,055.4 hours.

The airplane was an American Champion model 8KCAB “Super Decathlon”, bearing serial number 962-2004. The airplane was a single-engine, high wing, strut braced monoplane with a conventional (tail-dragger) landing gear arrangement. The airplane was configured to seat two occupants in a tandem seating arrangement. The fuselage was constructed predominately of welded steel tubing with a fabric covering. The wings had an aluminum structure covered with fabric. The airplane was powered by a Lycoming AEIO-360 engine rated to produce 180 horsepower. The airplane’s most recent annual inspection was completed on December 5, 2011.

At 1153, the weather conditions at MRT were: Calm wind; scattered clouds at 1,200 feet agl, overcast clouds at 2,200 feet agl; 10 miles visibility; temperature 6 degrees Celsius; dew point 2 degrees Celsius; altimeter setting 30.12 inches of mercury.

MRT was located about 1 mile southeast of the town of Marysville, Ohio, at an elevation of 1,021 feet above mean sea level (msl). The airport had a single runway, 9/27, that was 4,218 feet long and 75 feet wide and was constructed of asphalt. An aerobatic practice area was located south of the runway. The practice area was defined as a block of airspace 3,300 feet long by 3,300 feet wide and from the surface up to 3,979 feet agl (5,000 feet msl), located within one statute mile of MRT runway 9/27.

The airplane impacted the ground south of the runway in an approximate wings-level attitude. The landing gear was separated from the airplane. The right wing was separated and the left wing was partially separated at their inboard ends. The wings were displaced forward but remained located next to the fuselage. The ailerons remained attached to their respctive wing panels. The tail surfaces remained attached to the fuselage. The outboard end of the right elevator was bent upward and the top of the rudder was bent rearward. The horizontal and vertical stabilizers appeared undamaged. The forward fuselage was crushed rearward. The airplane was examined by Federal Aviation Administration inspectors. The airplane control system, engine and structural components exhibited no failures that could be attributed to a preimpact failure or malfunction.

An autopsy of the pilot was performed at the Franklin County Morgue, on December 23, 2011. The autopsy findings attributed the cause of death to injuries received during the accident.

A Final Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report, prepared by the FAA listed the following findings:

Atropine detected in Liver
Atropine detected in Blood (Cavity)

Atropine is a prescription anticholinergic agent and muscarinic antagonist. It is used to increase the heart rate by blocking vagal tone. Atropine is often used in emergency resuscitation efforts.
The pilot’s failure to maintain sufficient altitude from the terrain while performing low-level aerobatics.