The National Transportation Safety Board issued a probable cause report this week for the 2011 midair collision that resulted in the death of pilot Scott Veal. The agency determined the accident was caused by “the pilot’s failure to maintain adequate clearance while performing an unexpected and unannounced abrupt maneuver, resulting in a midair collision between the two airplanes.” According to NTSB investigator Clint Johnson, chief of the Alaska Region, analysis of the wreckage is consistent with an attempted pass by one of the aircraft over the other that resulted in a collision.
... Veal was flying a Cessna Caravan for Grant Aviation and Kristen Sprague was flying a Cessna 207 for Ryan Air. Both aircraft were based in Bethel and returning home with no passengers or cargo onboard when the accident occurred. The Caravan was en route from Toksook Bay, the 207 from Tununak. According to the NTSB report, the pilots were involved in a personal relationship and, through communication on a prearranged radio frequency, met up while in flight with the intention of returning to Bethel together. They collided at 1,200 feet about nine miles north of the village of Nightmute, and the Caravan went into a spin and crashed at 1:35 p.m. Sprague was uninjured and completed an emergency landing with the damaged C207.
... The Caravan was on fire after the crash and a large portion of the fuselage, cockpit/cabin area and engine were "embedded in a large crater.” The 207 landed about two miles away. Investigators followed a wreckage path that extended 1,500 feet from the Caravan. They located portions of the Caravan’s vertical stabilizer, the leading edge of which had red paint matching the wing of the 207 on it.
Investigators also discovered a portion of the 207 right aileron which was “severely distorted and crushed.” The Caravan’s severed rudder and vertical stabilizer were found together, about 1,000 feet from the main wreckage.
The 207 itself bore evidence of extensive structural damage on the trailing edge of the right wing. About four feet of the airplane’s right aileron was missing. Further, a portion of wreckage measuring 6 inches by 4 inches and bearing a part number that matched the Caravan’s structural doubler assembly from the vertical stabilizer was found embedded in the trailing edge of the 207’s right wing.
After consultation with Cessna, it was determined that the damage to the Caravan’s tail and the C207’s right wing are consistent with the larger aircraft passing over the 207 and then diving to the right at the time of impact. This scenario explains how the tail of one aircraft came in contact with the wing of the other while flying above it.