‘Right wing came off’ before crash, NTSB says in report
A small plane’s “right wing came off” during a maneuver before it crashed, killing one instructor and injuring another on Aug. 18 near Fort Pierce, according to a National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report.
In a five-page report dated Sunday, investigators say two instructors at Aviator College of Aeronautical Science & Technology were taking part in a "proficiency check" aboard a single-engine Piper PA-28-161. They departed from Treasure Coast International Airport at 12:02 p.m.
They proceed about 10 miles southwest to perform a series of maneuvers.
One instructor said he would perform an East Coast Safety Agency maneuver, which involved a power-off aerodynamic stall and recovery without the use of engine power.
"The left seat instructor took the flight controls and initiated the demonstration; he pitched up and entered a full aerodynamic stall, with power at idle," the report reads. "After the airplane stalled, he recalled pitching to 'Vg' (glide airspeed, 73 knots) to recover from the stall."
During the recovery, with power at idle, he stated, “the right wing came off” and there was an “abrupt banking tendency” to the right.
He noticed they were "losing altitude like crazy."
Right before the crash, the instructor didn't remember anything else and woke up in the hospital.
The two flight instructors have not been identified.
The airplane came to rest after descending through the building and partially into the RV. Both wings and two horizontal stabilator sections separated from the airplane during the flight and were found about 700 to 800 feet east.
Fragments of the cabin door were also located several hundred feet from the fuselage, along with miscellaneous items from the cockpit, including the tow bar.
"No signs of fatigue fractures were noted," according to the report.
The most recent 100-hour inspector was on June 29, according to the airplane’s maintenance records.
The plane was manufactured in 2002.
Scripps Only Content 2023