Crash during World War II enactment fatal for two

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The commercial pilot was participating in a World War II educational reenactment program with a passenger onboard the P-51.

The plane was supposed to perform four to five passes in front of an amphitheater in Fredericksburg, Texas, where the reenactment was being conducted.

Witnesses at the amphitheater stated that the airplane performed a low pass before entering a climb. The airplane then entered a turn, followed by a steep descent from which it did not recover before disappearing from view behind trees.

The airplane hit the ground in a near-vertical attitude. The propeller blades exhibited abrasions and leading-edge gouges consistent with the engine producing power at impact. All observed flight control separations exhibited features consistent with overload.

Both the pilot and passenger died in the crash.

The accident pilot ran a charity that provided flights in his warbird airplane to veterans. He typically participated in the reenactment program with a veteran seated in the rear seat of his airplane.

The director of the educational program stated that, in a pre-performance briefing on the day of the accident, the pilot was reminded of “all pertinent FAA requirements,” including that the fly-by be conducted no lower than 1,000 feet above ground level. Given the available information, the pilot most likely performed a low-level maneuver with a passenger on board and was unable to recover from that maneuver before hitting terrain.

Although the pilot held an authorization to fly the airplane at the time of the accident, he had a history of failed check rides, airspace violations, and enforcement actions. In each instance, his certificate was issued or reinstated upon reexamination.

Probable cause: The pilot’s decision to perform a low-level maneuver at an altitude where he was unable to recover the airplane before impacting terrain.

NTSB Identification: CEN19FA028

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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