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Sun, May 31, 2009

NTSB Offers Additional Details On RV-8 v CJ-6A MidAir

Sad Accident Resulted In One Fatality While One Walked Away

The puzzling details behind a tragic Alabama Mid-Air involving an RV-8 homebuilt (illustrated below) and a Chinese-made CJ-6A now appear more clear. The two aircraft were reported to have been involved in a planned formation flight when they temporarily lost sight of each other and subsequently collided near Pryor Field, AL. The accident occurred Saturday at approximately 1300, local time.

The RV-8 was being flown by Steven G. Raddatz of Tuscumbia (41). The RV-8 was damaged severely in the collision, came apart and impacted on the grounds of Calhoun Community College. The CJ-6A (illustrated below) was flown by B.J. Kennamore, a member of the Red Thunder airshow demonstration team. He is listed as Red Thunder's Maintenance Officer and one of the lead pilots. His aircraft was damaged as well, but thankfully managed a controlled landing with no resulting injury to Kennamore.

Both aircraft had flown out of Muscle Shoals, AL for the purpose of attending a cook-out and collided while returning home. Trying to distill cogent details out of general media reports is a mite difficult at the moment but it appears that both aircraft were involved in a wing-to-wing collision, and that the RV-8 ultimately suffered a wing failure while Kennamore's airplane suffered wing damage of a less severe nature that allowed for a landing back at Pryor Field.

NTSB Identification: ERA09LA302B
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 23, 2009 in Decatur, AL
Aircraft: NANCHANG CHINA CJ-6A, registration: 81817
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Minor.

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 May 23, 2009, about 1315 central daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Hazelwood RV-8, N875MH, and an experimental Nanchang China CJ-6A, N81817, collided in midair near Pryor Field (DCU), Decatur, Alabama. The RV-8 was substantially damaged and the CJ-6A sustained minor damage. The certificated private pilot onboard the RV-8 was killed and the certificated private pilot onboard the CJ-6A incurred minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plans were filed for the planned flights to Big River Airpark (5AL5), Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The personal flights were conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The RV-8 departed DCU about 1305 and the CJ-6A departed DCU about 1310.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector interviewed several witnesses and the surviving pilot at the accident site. They reported that there was an "open house" at DCU. The accident pilots were friends and neighbors who were visiting the airport. The pilots departed DCU with the intention of returning to their home airport. Prior to departing the airport area, both pilots planned to perform maneuvers while spectators on the ground took photographs; however, they did not preplan any formation flying. The RV-8 departed first and performed aerobatics while the CJ-6A departed.

The pilot of the RV-8 then attempted to fly in formation with the CJ-6A during a low pass over the airport. The RV-8 began to overtake the CJ-6A, while the pilot of the RV-8 announced his relative position over the common traffic advisory frequency. The pilot of the CJ-6A did not realize how close the RV-8 was, and began a climbing right turn. At that point, as the RV-8 overtook the CJ-6A from left to right, the left wing of the RV-8 contacted the right wing of the CJ-6A. The left wing of the RV-8 then partially separated, and the RV-8 subsequently descended uncontrolled and impacted a grass area at a local community college. The CJ-6A landed at DCU uneventfully.

The pilot of the RV-8, age 41, held a private pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on July 31, 2007. At that time he reported a total flight experience of 769 hours.

The pilot of the CJ-6A, age 59, held a private pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane single-engine sea, and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on March 17, 2009. At that time he reported a total flight experience of 3,600 hours.

Both airplanes were equipped with handheld global positioning systems (GPS), which were forwarded to the National Transportation Safety Board Vehicle Recorders Laboratory, Washington, DC, for data download.

The recorded weather at DCU, at 1353, was: wind from 080 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 10 miles in light rain, sky clear, temperature 22 degrees Celsius, dew point 19 degrees Celsius, altimeter 30.02 inches of mercury.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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