Sad Accident Resulted In One Fatality While One Walked
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
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
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
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
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.