Preliminary crash report: pilot was possibly attempting aerobatic maneuver

GROTON, S.D. (By Elisa Sand – A preliminary report for the Sept. 13 plane crash at Groton Municipal Airport indicates the pilot might have been attempting a low-altitude aerobatic maneuver at the time of the wreck.

The 11 a.m. crash was during the Groton Fly-In/Drive-In. The pilot, Doug Hansen, 64, died in the wreck, as did his passenger and wife, Tina Hansen, 55. The were from Clark. Doug Hansen died at the scene. Tina Hansen was transported to a hospital where she died, according to authorities.

Witnesses saw the plane take off and accelerate down the runway before the nose pitched up at a 45-degree angle, according to the report authored by the National Transportation Safety Board. The plane then rolled right and inverted before exiting the roll maneuver prior to hitting with the ground.

According to one witness, the roll was at an altitude of 75 feet to 100 feet, the report read. Two other witnesses said in the report that the maneuver appeared intentional.

None of the witnesses were aware of any planned aerobatic maneuvers as the flight was part of a group of pilots attempting to raise money to help youth gain interest in aviation, per the report.

A family member of the pilot said Doug Hansen routinely performed low-level aerobatics in the plane he was flying, according to the report.

A detailed wreckage examination is pending, according to the report. The plane, a 1997 American Champion 8KCAB fixed-wing, single-engine aircraft, was badly damaged in the crash.