Final Descent Rate Estimated at 8000 FPM

Location: Mesquite, TX Accident Number: CEN20LA134
Date & Time: 03/29/2020, 1518 CDT Registration: N151JD
Aircraft: MUSE P51D Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation – Personal

On March 29, 2020, at 1518 central daylight time, an amateur-built Muse P51D airplane, N151JD, was destroyed when it impacted terrain shortly after takeoff from the Mesquite Metro Airport (HQZ), Mesquite, Texas. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

A witness recalled seeing the airplane during takeoff as it was about halfway down the runway. It appeared to be maintaining the runway heading in a “steep, aggressive climb out.” Just past the departure end of the runway, the airplane entered a “steep, climbing right turn.” The engine sound decreased slightly for a short time before increasing again. As the airplane appeared to be turning to downwind, it “seemed to enter a stall and rapidly began losing altitude. Midway through the stall, the airplane repositioned to an almost direct nose down position.” He subsequently lost sight of the airplane behind a tree line. During the final portion of the descent, he “heard the throttle being manipulated, followed by the impact and explosion.” A second witness reported the takeoff appeared normal and the engine sounded good at that time. The airplane entered a right turn and became established on a right crosswind. The airplane subsequently entered a right turn to downwind and rolled wings level for about 5 to 10 seconds before it entered another right turn. The turn appeared to be controlled at first but gradually got steeper as it progressed. About 90° through that turn, the bank angle was about 65° (right wing down) and by the time the airplane reached 180° through the turn, the nose of the airplane was oriented “nearly straight down.” During the descent, the elevator appeared to be deflected trailing edge up and the airplane appeared to pitch up “just a little bit.” The airframe appeared to be intact during the entire flight.

Automated Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) data revealed the airplane departed from runway 36 at 1517 and appeared to enter a right traffic pattern. The airplane leveled about 1,800 ft. mean sea level (msl) on a crosswind before beginning a turn from crosswind to downwind about 1518:44. About 3 seconds later, the airplane entered a descending right turn from about 1,700 ft. msl. The final data point was recorded at 1518:53; the altitude was about 900 ft. The average descent rate over the last 6 seconds of data was about 8,000 ft per minute.

The accident site was located in an agricultural field about 0.80 miles northwest from the departure end of runway 36 at HQZ. The airplane was fragmented. The engine and propeller came to rest in the ground impact crater. Portions of the wings, empennage, and flight controls were observed at the site.