April 4, 2012, Breckenridge, Texas, Grumman F8F-1 Bearcat


The airplane was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain at 1410 Central time during a low-altitude aerobatic maneuver performed shortly after takeoff. A post-impact fire ensued. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The accident pilot reportedly announced over the radio he was going to perform a Half Cuban Eight aerobatic maneuver after takeoff and then overfly the runway in the opposite direction. After liftoff, the accident airplane reportedly climbed 100 to 200 feet in a shallow climb before it pitched up into a near-vertical climb. The airplane continued the climb in an inside loop before leveling out, inverted, about 500 feet above the runway heading the opposite direction of the takeoff. The witness then saw the airplane’s wings roll suddenly before the airplane entered a near-vertical descent, described as a descending half loop, from which the airplane was unable to recover before colliding with terrain.


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