Warbird Went Down In The Gulf Of Mexico Off Fort Walton
The NTSB has issued its preliminary
findings in an accident involving an AT-6G which went down July 2nd
in the Gulf of Mexico. The accident was witnessed by several people
on the beach in Destin, FL, who said the aircraft entered a spin
following a steep climb, and spun into the water. The pilot and a
passenger were killed in the accident.
NTSB Identification: ERA10FA342
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, July 02, 2010 in Destin, FL
Aircraft: NORTH AMERICAN AT-6, registration: N92778
Injuries: 2 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 July 2, 2010, at 1218 central daylight time, a North American
AT-6G, N92778, operated by a commercial pilot, was substantially
damaged when it impacted the Gulf of Mexico, about 1 mile south of
Destin, Florida. The certificated commercial pilot and passenger
were killed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no
flight plan was filed for the local flight that departed
Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (DTS), Destin, Florida, about
1200. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14
Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
Several people were on the Destin/Fort Walton Beach, and
witnessed the accident. They reported to an FAA inspector that the
airplane had been performing aerobatic maneuvers along the beach.
Just prior to the accident, the airplane was flying east along the
beach, then turned west with its "smoke on." The airplane began a
steep climb, possibly a loop. At the top of the climb, the smoke
ceased and the airplane entered a spin. The airplane descended in a
spin, until impacting the water.
Review of preliminary radar data provided by the FAA, revealed a
target with at discrete transponder code on an easterly ground
track at 12:14:23, at an altitude of 1,350 mean sea level. The
target descended to 150 feet at 12:17:11, then climbed to 1,150
feet at 12:17:34, and reversed track to the west at 12:17:59, while
descending through 650 feet. The target subsequently descended to
350 feet at 12:18:11, before beginning the final climb to 1,350
feet at 12:18:23. Two subsequent radar targets recorded altitudes
of 950 feet and 850 feet, at 12:18:35 and 12:18:47,
The wreckage was located the same day, about 3/4 mile south of
the beach, at a depth of 65 feet. Underwater video recording
confirmed that all major components of the airplane were accounted
for at the accident site; however, during recovery, the fuselage
separated from the center wing section. The engine, cockpit and
fuselage were recovered and examined on July 4, 2010. The engine
remained attached to the fuselage and the cockpit area was crushed.
Elevator, elevator trim, and rudder control cable continuity was
confirmed from the cockpit area to broomstraw cable separations at
the aft portion of the fuselage. The aileron control tubes had
separated about the mid-cockpit area, at the "Y bar." The throttle
and mixture controls were found mid-range, and the propeller
control was full-forward. The fuel selector was positioned to the
left main fuel tank.
The propeller remained attached to the engine. One propeller
blade exhibited aft curling and chordwise scratches. The other
propeller blade exhibited s-bending, leading edge gouges, and
chordwise scratches. The top spark plugs were removed from the
cylinders, except for the No. 3 top spark plug, which was missing.
The spark plugs were light gray with some oil coating noted and
their electrodes were intact. The propeller was rotated through 360
degrees. Compression was noted on the cylinders, with water
emanating from them. Continuity was confirmed through the engine to
the magneto drive shafts, and both magnetos remained attached to
their respective drive shaft.
Portions of the wings and empennage were recovered on July 5,
2010. Further examination of the wreckage was planned upon its
arrival at the aircraft recovery company's facility.
The pilot, age 57, held a commercial pilot certificate, with
ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land,
and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA third-class medical
certificate was issued on November 3, 2009. Review of the pilot's
most recent logbook revealed that he had accumulated 1,923.9 total
hours of flight experience. A friend of the pilot estimated that he
had accrued approximately 300 to 500 hours of experience in
The two-seat tandem, low-wing, retractable-gear tailwheel
airplane, serial number 182-486, was manufactured in 1943 and
remanufactured in 1951. Its most recent FAA standard airworthiness
certificate was issued on April 12, 1979. It was equipped with a
Pratt and Whitney R1340, 550-horsepower radial engine and a
Hamilton Standard two-blade constant-speed propeller. The
airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on March 26,
2010. At that time, the airplane had accumulated 6,790.1 total
hours of operation and the engine had accumulated 232.1 hours of
operation since overhaul. The airplane had flown 30.2 Hobbs hours
since the annual inspection.
The recorded weather at DTS, located about 5 miles northwest of
the accident side, at 1153, was: wind from 070 degrees at 6 knots;
visibility 10 miles; few clouds at 2,800 feet; temperature 29
degrees Celsius (C), dew point 23 degrees C; altimeter 30.06 inches
A Garmin "GPSMAP 496" was recovered from the wreckage and
retained for further examination.