The owner of a DH-82A Tiger Moth (N54556) and his passenger, a professional pilot, were carrying out a familiarisation flight in the Tiger Moth. The owner occupied the front cockpit with the passenger in the rear cockpit, from which the aircraft is flown when solo.
They completed a first sortie, which comprised general handling and circuits followed by a short break. They agreed to do some more circuits with the passenger flying the aircraft. After the first landing, the owner took control and performed a rolling takeoff and made an early right turn, estimated by the passenger to be at about 20-30 ft agl. The passenger noticed that the aircraft was becoming increasingly cross-controlled with full right rudder and left control stick, which resulted in the aircraft rolling into a steeply banked turn to the right and striking the surface of a crop field in a steep nosedown attitude. The pilot, in the front cockpit, was fatally injured and the passenger was seriously injured but able to release himself from the wreckage and drag himself clear.
The accident occurred because the increasing amount of right rudder was not reduced and left roll control stick reached the limit of its travel causing the aircraft to enter a descending, steepening turn to the right, and possibly to enter an incipient spin, before striking the ground. The reason for the loss of control was not determined, but the possibility that the pilot became incapacitated could not be excluded.
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