Accident Smyth Sidewinder , Tuesday 7 January 1997
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Date:Tuesday 7 January 1997
Type:Smyth Sidewinder
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Caboolture, (ALA), QLD -   Australia
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Departure airport:Caboolture, QLD
Destination airport:Caboolture, QLD
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
The homebuilt aircraft had been completed over a period of about 22 years and was in flying condition. The aircraft, known as the Smyth Model S Sidewinder, was designed in the USA in 1958. The designer was aiming to produce a sporting monoplane that was reasonably easy to build, easy to fly, stressed to 9g for aerobatics, and economical in operation. The first flight of this aircraft type was made on 21 February 1969 and it received the Outstanding Design Award at the 17th Experimental Aircraft Association Fly-in that year. Plans became available to amateur constructors and in 1973 the plans for the accident aircraft were purchased by the owner.

By 1978, the fuselage construction was well advanced and the initial inspection was carried out. The project proceeded slowly and in 1985 the owner moved from NSW to live in Qld. The aircraft was nearing completion in 1994 when the owner made an application to the then Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to reserve the registration VH-LKV. The aircraft was a first of type in Australia, and the necessary certification processes were incomplete. At the time of the accident, the aircraft was unregistered and did not have a certificate of airworthiness or a permit to fly. However, the pilot on the accident flight had flown the aircraft some weeks earlier on its first flight.

It had not been the intention of the owner to fly the aircraft on the day of the accident. The pilot arrived at the aerodrome and found the owner and his friend working on the aircraft. After some discussion, the pilot suggested to the owner that they should take the aircraft for a flight. The owner initially declined the offer but the pilot persuaded him to accede to the suggestion. Subsequently, the pilot added 20 L of fuel to the main fuel tank, which had contained about 6 L of residual fuel. The pilot then assisted the owner and his friend to replace panels and cowling and to prepare the aircraft for flight.

The weather was fine with a light south-easterly wind. Witnesses observed the aircraft taking off from runway 06. After takeoff, the aircraft initially flew low down the runway with a tail-down attitude, and then began a shallow climb. A flight of about 30 minutes was conducted, during which the pilot demonstrated some of the handling characteristics to the owner. The pilot also carried out circuits and landings during this period. The aircraft was then landed and taxied back to the hangar. While the engine was running and the owner was getting out of the aircraft, the pilot motioned to the owner's friend to come over to the aircraft. The friend indicated to another person he was with at the time, that he did not wish to go flying as he would be late getting home. However, he boarded the aircraft and the pilot taxied out for another takeoff.

The aircraft became airborne, again from runway 06, and headed north-east for about 2 km before turning left and heading back towards the aerodrome. When the aircraft was over the aerodrome at about 1,000 ft, witnesses saw the aircraft descend in a shallow dive and then perform what appeared to be a steeply banked manoeuvre or barrel roll to the right. One witness said he remembered seeing the belly of the aircraft faced towards him. Another witness said the aircraft rolled completely over in what appeared to be a controlled manoeuvre. During this manoeuvre, a third witness heard the engine noise increase and then completely cease. The aircraft recovered to a level attitude but immediately flick-rolled to the left and adopted a steep nose-down attitude. The aircraft continued to flick-roll or spin and struck the ground. The aircraft was descending almost vertically at impact with a 30-degree nose-down attitude. There was no fire and the impact was not survivable.


ATSB Occurrence Nr. 199700047

Revision history:

21-Jan-2008 10:00 ASN archive Added
30-Apr-2018 10:39 Pineapple Updated [Time, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Phase, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Damage, Narrative]

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