Stall and spin at low altitude fatal for pilot

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The pilot of the experimental Titan Tornado 1 took off and made a left turn to travel north of the airport in Louisa, Virginia. A witness at the airport reported that the airplane sounded louder than normal during departure.

About 1 minute 18 seconds after takeoff, the plane climbed to an altitude of about 400 feet above ground level at a groundspeed of 60 knots. During the next 22 seconds, the airplane descended about 300 feet and slowed to a groundspeed of 34 knots before hitting a field.

The pilot died in the crash.

The lack of a discernable debris path, asymmetric damage to both wings, and the airplane’s relatively low ground speed immediately before the accident all suggest that the airplane likely departed controlled flight after entering an aerodynamic stall and spin.

Examination of the engine revealed no preimpact mechanical malfunctions that would have precluded the engine from operating normally.

The muffler had a hole measuring about 2 inches in diameter where the muffler rear mount attached to the engine. Although the pilot had a headset, if the separation of the muffler had occurred during the accident flight, the increased engine noise due to the hole in the muffler could have distracted the him, and resulted in his subsequent loss of control and an aerodynamic stall/spin.

The pilot had longstanding hypertensive cardiomyopathy, which could have increased his risk of an arrhythmia that could have caused palpitations, shortness of breath, anxiety, and/or fainting. However, the pilot’s medications may have mitigated that risk.

Therefore, the investigation could not determine from the available information whether the pilot’s heart disease contributed to the circumstances of the accident.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed and the airplane’s exceedance of its critical angle of attack, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and spin at a low altitude.

NTSB Identification: ERA19FA036

This November 2018 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

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