Aviation Accident Summaries

Aviation Accident Summary CEN21FA355

Starkville, MS, USA

Aircraft #1




The pilot was conducting a series of low-level maneuvers when the accident occurred. The airplane subsequently impacted trees and terrain. A postaccident examination revealed no mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. Although ethanol was detected in the pilot’s cavity blood, no ethanol was detected in the pilot’s vitreous specimens. Because vitreous specimens are generally less susceptible to contamination and postmortem microbial ethanol production than other specimen types, the absence of detectable ethanol in the pilot’s vitreous specimens indicated that the detected ethanol in the pilot’s cavity blood was likely from sources other than consumption and was thus not a factor in the accident.

Factual Information

HISTORY OF FLIGHTOn August 4, 2021, about 1520 central daylight time, a North American T6G airplane, N7197C, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Starkville, Mississippi. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. A review of air traffic control (ATC) radar track data revealed that the airplane departed runway 36 at McCharen Field Airport (M83), West Point, Mississippi; continued toward the southsouthwest; and performed a series of maneuvers near the accident site. The final radar return was recorded about 1518; at that time, the airplane was located about 0.15 miles west of the accident site. The pilot was not in contact with an ATC facility during the flight. A witness saw the airplane operating overhead at a low altitude. The witness stated that the airplane made three passes and was “low” over trees. The witness’ boyfriend, who was at the same location, recorded two video clips of the airplane. A review of the video clips showed the airplane briefly as it passed overhead at a low altitude (just above the trees). The video clips also showed that the airplane was trailing smoke from an installed smoke system. WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATIONDamage to the airplane at the accident site was consistent with the airplane striking the trees at a steep angle before impacting terrain. The main wreckage was located near the airplane’s initial impact point, which was on a heading of about 105°. The wreckage was confined to an area near the impact point. The on-site examination was limited due to impact damage to the airplane. The engine separated from the airframe and, along with the propeller, was partially buried under dirt. Both wings displayed accordion crushing along their wingspan. Cable continuity was confirmed from the empennage to the cockpit. However, control tubes beneath the front and rear cockpit areas were heavily damaged from the impact. Postaccident examination of the airframe and engines revealed no mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATIONThe Mississippi State Medical Examiner’s Office, Pearl, Mississippi, performed an autopsy of the pilot. His cause of death was blunt force injuries. The Federal Aviation Administration Forensic Sciences Laboratory performed toxicological testing on specimens from the pilot. Ethanol was detected at 0.046 g/dL in his cavity blood but not in his vitreous specimens. Detected ethanol can be the result of consumption or postmortem microbial ethanol production.

Probable Cause and Findings

The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from trees while maneuvering at low altitude.


Source: NTSB Aviation Accident Database

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