The narrative from the report of the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board from Barksdale Air Force Base is set forth below:
“This aircraft took off from Barksdale AFB, Louisiana at approximately 0830 CST. Aircraft had cleared on a local VFR clearance. The mission was instrument instruction to two (2) Aviation Cadets assigned to the Air Force Advanced Pilot School.
At 0844 CST the pilot contacted Shreveport Radio and requested to change to IFR, asking for 500–on-top. Pilot stated that he was a local B-25 and requested to do instrument practice above the cloud deck for 2 hours and 45 minutes.
At 0849 CST Shreveport Radio cleared the aircraft to climb to 500–on-top under visual flight rules, to report reaching 500–on-top and to request further clearance before descending. He was cleared to fly all quadrants of the Shreveport and Barksdale ranges.
At 0852 CST pilot reported at 500–on-top giving his altitude as 4000 feet with tops of clouds at 3000–3500 feet and 4000 feet in spots. Pilot reported a thunderstorm to the west with tops estimated at 10,000 feet.
At approximately 0950 CST witnesses saw the airplane falling at a rapid rate of descent. Pieces were seen flying from the aircraft. The aircraft crashed in a densely wooded area 48 miles north of Barksdale AFB. An examination of the wreckage revealed that both wings outboard of the engines and entire empennage had fallen from the aircraft and were scattered over an area one (1) mile north of the crash. Examination of the wings and tail assembly revealed that parts were evidently blown off. There was no indication of fire or explosion. The bodies of the four (4) crew members were found at the wreckage. There had been no attempt to “bail out.”
There were no thunderstorms reported in the area where the airplane crashed.
Investigation was hampered by the lack of any qualified witnesses to the accident.
One of the students aboard had failed a basic instrument check the day before and had experienced difficulty recovering from unusual positions.
The Aircraft Accident Investigation Board was unable to determine just who was sitting in the pilot’s and co-pilot’s seat.
CONTRIBUTING CAUSE FACTORS: The exact cause of this accident is undetermined but is believed to have been caused by structural failure when the design limits of the airplane were exceeded. The Accident Board is of the opinion that the instructor was giving unusual positions to the student and the aircraft entered the cloud deck. It is believed that the aircraft built up a high rate of speed and during the recovery the design limits were exceeded.
RECOMMENDATIONS: That the diving speed of B-25 type aircraft be limited to 250 miles per hour. That all unusual positions be given at an altitude of at least 7000 feet above the ground and at least 3000 feet above any clouds if flying above a cloud deck. That amber shields be used to cover gyro instruments during practice instead of caging the instruments.”
(To be continued.)