Aer­o­bat­ics played role in deadly crash

Pi­lot, pas­sen­ger died when WWII-era F-51D crashed

The Arizona Republic - - Arizona And The Southwest -

A new report of the Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board sug­gests aer­o­batic ma­neu­ver­ing played a role in the crash of a WWII-era plane that killed both pi­lot and pas­sen­ger south of Phoenix in Fe­bru­ary 2016.

Sev­eral wit­nesses told in­ves­ti­ga­tors they saw the North Amer­i­can F-51D “per­form­ing ac­ro­batic-type ma­neu­vers” mo­ments be­fore it plum­meted to the ground about six miles south­west of the city of Mari­copa.

“One wit­ness, de­scribed the ma­neu­ver as a ‘reg­u­lar loop.’ The wit­ness stated that, dur­ing the last half of the ma­neu­ver, the air­plane never pulled up,” the report said.

Killed in the crash were the plane’s owner and pi­lot, 61-year-old Jef­frey Pino of Chan­dler, and pas­sen­ger Nick­o­las Tra­mon­tano, 72, of Brook­field, Con­necti­cut. Pino was a for­mer pres­i­dent of Siko­rsky Air­craft, a mil­i­tary and com­mer­cial he­li­copter man­u­fac­turer, and had pre­vi­ously been a se­nior vice pres­i­dent of Bell He­li­copter.

The North Amer­i­can F-51D, a type of Amer­i­can Fighter used in World War II, crashed at ap­prox­i­mately 12 p.m. Feb. 5 in Mari­copa near Pa­pago and Ralston roads. Other wit­nesses re­ported see­ing the plane de­scend in a nose-down spi­ral un­til it hit the ground, ac­cord­ing to the NTSB in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The au­topsy report stated Pino’s cause of death as “mul­ti­ple blunt force in­juries,” ac­cord­ing to the NTSB report. There was no trace of a med­i­cal event pre­cip­i­tat­ing the crash.

The plane, named Big Beau­ti­ful Doll, de­parted from Stellar Air­park in Chan­dler that morn­ing. A flight plan was not filed, the report states.

The F-51D man­ual states that the plane was not de­signed for power-on spins or snap rolls, and “most at­tempts end up in a power spin,” the report stated. Cal­cu­la­tions in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion report state that the pi­lot was not at the spe­cific al­ti­tude re­quired to re­cover from the ma­neu­vers.

Suzanne Barnes, a res­i­dent who lives near the crash lo­ca­tion, told ABC15 that she knew some­thing was dif­fer­ent about this flight. She ex­plained that she heard the engine go­ing in and out, fol­lowed by an ex­plo­sion and the power go­ing out. When she walked out her front door, she saw a huge black plume of smoke.

GABRIELLA DEL RIO

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