FAA Medical Policies Cited In Airshow Crash
The NTSB has cited the FAA's special issuance medical policies as a contributing factor in the death of an airshow pilot in 2011. In its final report (top of the queue) on the crash of a T-28 at the Thunder Over the Blue Ridge show in Martinsburg, W. Va., the board determined that the airplane crashed because pilot Jack Mangan was incapacitated by complications from a heart attack at the controls. But the board, in an I-told-you-so admonition, said the FAA knew Mangan was at risk for a heart attack and failed to stop him from flying aerobatics despite an NTSB recommendation in 1999 to prevent those with special issuance medicals from doing high-G maneuvers. "Contributing to the accident was the [FAA's] willingness to allow an airman with well documented, severe coronary artery disease to perform high-risk, low altitude aerobatic maneuvers."
Mangan was flying as part of the Trojan Horsemen team at the show and crashed after a series of maneuvers that ended with an aileron roll. The aircraft never completed the roll and crashed in the infield. He was flying with a current Class 3 medical. The NTSB said the pilot had a quadruple bypass at the age of 43 and developed Type 2 diabetes soon after. It said medical statistics indicated Mangan was ripe for a heart attack and apparently had one a day or two before the crash. It postulated that the strain of the aerobatics threw the heart into arrhythmia and incapacitated Mangan. In 1999, the NTSB asked the FAA to stop all pilots with special issuance medicals from doing intentional aerobatics. The FAA didn't act on the recommendation.