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ACRO E-mail Archive Thread: [Fwd: Hillard investigation results]


Thread: [Fwd: Hillard investigation results]

Message: [Fwd: Hillard investigation results]

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From: Geryl Mortensen <iloop at Onramp.NET>

Date: Thu, 30 Jan 1997 17:35:51 UTC


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Subject: Hillard investigation results

From: ANN ASBERRY                     PESK
Subj: Hillard investigation results
Don't know if you have seen this yet. It was sent to me yesterday. I do not
know where the article appeared, but think it might have been Aviation Weekly.
Subj: Hillard investigation results
NTSB rules pilot error in crash of Hillard Sea Fury
WASHINGTON, DC - Pilot error killed Charlie Hillard, the National
Transportation Safety Board has ruled.
Hillard, a popular air show pilot, died April 16 last year when his red,
white and blue Hawker Sea Fury nosed over while taxiing back to the ramp
following a performance at the Sun 'n Fun EAA Fly-In.
Hillard, 58, was asphyxiated when the big WWII-era British fighter came to
rest inverted alongside the runway, crushing its canopy. Hillard had removed
the roll cage from the cockpit to make room for a jump seat while restoring the
plane for air shows.
In its final report on the accident, the NTSB listed the probable cause as
"the pilot's improper use of brakes and ailerons, during the landing rollout
with a right crosswind. . ."
The NTSB said the combination "resulted in a loss of directional control and
subsequent nose-over."
The board listed the six-knot right crosswind, along with Hillard's lack of
experience in the Sea Fury (41 hours), as factors relating to the accident.
Video tape of the accident indicated the left aileron and both elevator
surfaces were up during the landing rollout and accident sequence.
Hillard had made a wheel landing and decelerated to a three-point attitude
when the tail became airborne and he veered off the right side of Runway 27 at
Lakeland Linder Airport in Lakeland, Florida.
Eyewitnesses said it appeared that Hillard's brakes may have locked, but the
NTSB reported the Sea Fury's hydraulic system pressurized normally during a
post-accident test of its brakes.
Additionally, board investigators said they found no visible brake caliper
leakage, and no abnormal wear on brake disks or linings.
According to the NTSB's factual report on the crash, mechanics had installed
new brake pucks on both the left and right wheels just days before the
Hillard also had recently replaced the airplane's right wheel and brake
caliper after a brake key came out of the wheel and became lodged between the
wheel and caliper while the plane was being pushed into a hangar at Hillard's
home field in Texas.
NTSB investigators found skid marks indicating intermittent left main gear
braking that started at the 5,000-foot runway marker and continued for 439
feet. At that point the left brake became continuous until the airplane
departed the runway. A continuous right main gear brake application
began 400 feet further down the runway than where the left brake was first
applied. Both left and right tire marks veered to the right.
While Hillard had relatively little Sea Fury experience, he had 250 hours in
various warbirds, and had logged 14,400 total hours during a long flying career
that included 25 accident-free years with the famed Eagles Aerobatic Team.
Hillard had purchased the Sea Fury and reentered the air show circuit in 1996
as a solo act after the Eagles disbanded the previous year.
Tom Poberezny, a fellow Eagles Team member and close personal friend of
Hillard's, said he was finding it difficult to accept the NTSB's conclusions.
"I know, and others know, that putting an airplane up on jacks and testing
the brakes after an accident doesn't mean they were working fine before," he
"I didn't see it happen, and I know the NTSB did the best job they could
with the time they had available," Poberezny said. "I'm not criticizing the
NTSB," he emphasized, "but most accidents aren't black and white.
"I flew with Charlie for 25 years," Poberezny said, "and I have a hard time
accepting pilot error. On the other hand, he added, "I can't totally dismiss
it, either.
"I'm not sure we'll ever know what caused this accident, but I know one
thing for sure," Poberezny said. "My opinion of Charlie as a pilot hasn't
"He was a superb airman."


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