At 1345 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while returning to land shortly after takeoff. The private pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
A flight instructor preparing for a flight heard the accident pilot on the tower frequency informing the controller that he “had to come back.” He then observed the airplane flying northeast to southwest over the field, and heard the tower controller clear the airplane to land on any runway. The accident airplane continued toward the approach end of Runway 36.
A second pilot-rated witness observed the wings “wobbling” and the airplane “porpoising” while on the downwind leg for Runway 36. The airplane made a turn onto what appeared to be the base leg of the traffic pattern, and it “looked like he was trying to get back to the runway.” The airplane then overshot final approach, made a “hard left turn” and pitched down abruptly. The second witness described the event as a “stall/spin.”