Aviation safety investigations & reports

Loss of Control, Clyde North, Victoria, 23 February 2007; Van's Aircraft Inc. RV-4, VH-ZGH

Investigation number:
200701033
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Summary

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On 23 February 2007, the owner-pilot of a Van's Aircraft Inc RV-4 aircraft, registered VH-ZGH, was observed conducting aerobatic manoeuvres in the designated Moorabbin aerobatic area over Clyde North. At approximately 1740 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, witnesses observed the aircraft descending in a spin after completing a stall turn. The aircraft then appeared to enter an unstable spiral dive and, at approximately 500 m above the ground, pieces were observed separating from the aircraft. The aircraft was seen to impact the ground almost vertically and was destroyed by impact forces and a post-impact fire. Both occupants were fatally injured.

The investigation found that the pilot probably lost control of the aircraft performing an aerobatic manoeuvre, and entered a spin from which he was unable to recover. The investigation also found that the pilot performed manoeuvres in an aircraft that was loaded above the maximum weight limit for aerobatic flight, and with the centre of gravity outside the rear limit.

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Preliminary

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Preliminary report released 8 May 2007

On 23 February 2007, at approximately 1710 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, a Van's Aircraft Inc. RV-4 aircraft, registered VH-ZGH, took off from Essendon Airport, Victoria, with the owner-pilot and one passenger on board. The flight was to the designated Moorabbin aerobatic area over Clyde North.
At approximately 1740, witnesses reported observing the aircraft descending in a spin after completing an aerobatic manoeuvre. The aircraft engine was heard to gain power during the spin and the aircraft speed rapidly increased. The aircraft was then seen to enter into, what appeared to be, an unstable spiral dive.
At approximately 1,500 ft above the ground, witnesses reported that the engine noise was very high-pitched and loud, and objects were seen to separate from the aircraft. The rapid spiral descent continued and the aircraft was observed to impact the ground almost vertically. The aircraft was destroyed by impact forces and a post-impact fire. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured.

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General details
Date: 23 February 2007   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1740 ESuT    
Location   (show map): Clyde North    
State: Victoria   Occurrence type: Loss of control  
Release date: 11 February 2008   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Amateur Built Aircraft  
Aircraft model Vans RV-4  
Aircraft registration VH-ZGH  
Serial number S-88  
Type of operation Sports Aviation  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point Essendon, Vic  
Departure time 1710 ESuT  
Destination Essendon, Vic  
Crew details
Role Class of licence Hours on type Hours total
Pilot-in-Command Private 22.7 279
 
Injuries
  Crew Passenger Ground Total
Fatal: 1 1 0 2
Total: 1 1 0 2
Last update 18 April 2018