Aerobatics Might Have Preceded Baron Crash

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The actual circumstances may never be known, but the NTSB is inviting speculation that the pilot of Beech 58 Baron might have been performing aerobatics, perhaps even trying to roll the aircraft, before it was seen shedding parts and crashing near Hamilton, Ga., on April 22. The pilot and all four passengers died. The only witness was a boater who, according to the preliminary report, heard an aircraft approaching and told investigators it “sounded as if the pilot was performing some acrobatic maneuvers.” Shortly after he said he heard the engine noise increase in intensity and he watched as either a wing or part of the tail came off as the airplane dove at a steep angle. But it’s what acquaintances of the pilot told investigators that have led to the possible theory that intentional aerobatics preceded the in-flight breakup. According to the report, the pilot’s friends seemed universally concerned that he was planning to fly the airplane in ways not covered by the POH. “The friend informed the pilot that he thought he was stupid and not to do anything in the airplane that would get him hurt." According to the NTSB report, the pilot stated, "I think I can roll this airplane." The friend told investigators the pilot was impressed by an air demonstration pilot at the Sun 'n Fun Fly-In the previous week who performed aerobatics in a Beech 18. Another friend, who flew in the right seat of the Baron on the trip back from Sun 'n Fun, reported the pilot said, "I believe it is possible to roll this aircraft," and then appeared to try and roll the Baron. The aircraft was at knife edge before the friend grabbed the controls and leveled the aircraft. The flight continued to Griffin, Ga., and there was no further mention of rolling the airplane, but the friend did report that the pilot shut down one engine for part of the trip.