Early NTSB report released

Published 9:46 pm Saturday, January 9, 2010

The pilot of a single-engine airplane that crashed in the Dismal Swamp in December had less than 100 hours of flight experience and none in the plane he was flying, according to a preliminary report on the incident.

On Dec. 21, Eric Musial, 37, of Virginia Beach, was getting “checked out” in the Czech Aircraft Works Sportcruiser, a special light sportplane, when he put the aircraft into a power-off stall at an altitude of 2,500 feet to prove he could recover from such an event, the National Transportation Safety Board said in its first report on the accident.

When Musial added power to begin recovering from the stall, he reportedly told the NTSB, “the airplane ‘yawed left.’” Attempting to overcome the yaw, Musial, told investigators, “he applied right rudder and the airplane ‘snapped into a tight spin to the left.’”

A flight instructor on board the aircraft from Tidewater Flight Center at Chesapeake Regional Airport took the controls and was finally able to stop the aircraft from spinning, but she was unable to pull the airplane out of its dive before it struck the trees near Lake Drummond and crashed into the ground, landing upside-down in the swamp.

Both the flight instructor and the pilot were injured in the crash.

The flight instructor had 470 hours of flight experience and holds a commercial pilot certificate, according to the NTSB report. She had 20 hours of experience in the make and model airplane the pair was flying that day.

Because of the remote location of the crash, the airplane remained at the crash site for eight days before it was recovered. It will be examined at a later date, according to the report.