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The pilot flew to a private airstrip for a visit with fellow aviators. After about one and a half hours he decided to fly home. The aircraft took off to the north and climbed straight ahead to about 100 feet above the ground before making a steep, 180 degree, left turn and descending towards witnesses standing in front of a hangar. About 100 metres south of the witnesses the pilot commenced a left barrel roll from an estimated altitude 60 feet and an airspeed of about 85 knots. The aircraft managed to get over the top of the barrel roll but then descended rapidly. It impacted the ground in a south westerly direction with a nose-low, wings level attitude. It bounced off the ground and came to rest in about 10 metres with the engine dislodged from the airframe and the landing gear collapsed. It has been determined that the aircraft was serviceable prior to the accident. Neither the weather conditions nor the pilot's medical status contributed to the accident. Subsequent inflight checks in a Chipmunk aircraft have confirmed that a complete barrel roll cannot be achieved from an altitude of 60 feet with an entry airspeed of 85 knots. The pilot had been instructed and found competent to carry out barrel rolls at higher altitudes in his Chipmunk in 1966. He gave no prior warning that he was going to attempt to carry out a low level barrel roll.

Download Final Report
[ Download PDF: 22KB]
General details
Date: 04 December 1988 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1726  
Location:4.5 km SE of St James Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Victoria Occurrence type: Collision with terrain 
Release date: 04 September 1989 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Fatal 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: de Havilland Canada 
Aircraft model: DHC-1 
Aircraft registration: VH-BSM 
Serial number: DH/HF/51 
Type of operation: Private 
Damage to aircraft: Destroyed 
Departure point:4.5 km SE of St James VIC
Departure time:1725
Destination:Benalla VIC
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