By AuxBeacon News Staff
On July 23rd 2011 Matthew P. Shope, an 18 year old Civil Air Patrol Cadet Flight Instructor performed an aggressive flight maneuver at low altitude in an American Aviation AA-1A Trainer with 19 year old Pedro Torres aboard. Both died in the resulting crash that was filmed and uploaded to YouTube. The NTSB released their assessment November 7th 2012.
Civil Air Patrol commanders and public affairs officers made glowing reports of Matt Shope, while being careful to distance the Civil Air Patrol from the accident if not Shope’s training, which appears to have been done by Civil Air Patrol. They really talked him up, before the NTSB revealed the probable cause of the accident.
Civil Air Patrol reported that:
Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Matthew Paul Shope died in a non-CAP related single engine airplane crash in Corona, Calif., bordering the Cleveland National Forest, on Saturday July 23, 2011. He was 18.
Shope joined the Civil Air Patrol Los Alamitos Glider Training Squadron 41 in June 2007, and later transferred to the Fullerton Composite Squadron 56.
Shope’s love of aviation began when he received an introductory flight for his 13th birthday. At 14, Shope soloed in a glider after completing flight lessons at the Los Alamitos Glider Training Squadron 41 and received his FAA Glider Pilot license on his 15th birthday. At 16, Shope soloed a powered aircraft, and received his FAA Private Pilot license at 17.
Shope continued to train and earn additional FAA certifications, including passing the FAA Commercial Pilot license exam at 18. Shope earned an FAA Ground Instructor certificate and was a Certified Flight Instructor. Shope was using his CFI rating to help build flight hours towards his Airline Transport Pilot license to become a commercial airline pilot.
“Matt truly lived to fly, and flied to live,” said Maj. Grant Henninger, Squadron 56 Commander.
While a member of the Civil Air Patrol, Shope attended two cadet encampments and several National Cadet Special Activities including the Air Force Pararescue Orientation Course at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., and the National Blue Beret at Oshkosh, Wis. Shope also attended the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Familiarization Course at Columbus Air Force base, Miss., and the National Emergency Services Academy at Camp Atterbury, Ind.
Shope was very active in Emergency Services and training to become a Civil Air Patrol Mission Pilot. “His drive to participate in Emergency Services was so infections that it encouraged other cadets and even a few senior members to participate in Emergency Services,” Henninger said.
He was a confident and excellent pilot, with a true passion for flying, said Lt. Col. James Welliver, Squadron 41 Commander. “Every time I flew with Matt, you could see that he had everything dialed-in.”
“Shope was well respected by Civil Air Patrol cadets and senior members alike,” recalls Welliver. “Matt was a really great, easy-going kid who truly loved to fly,” said Welliver.
The National Transportation Safety Board had a somewhat less favorable evaluation of the events.
A witness stated she saw the airplane make an abrupt, swooping and descending left turn. She described it as “extravagant” and similar to an aerobatic maneuver typically seen at air shows.
The witness also reported the airplane began to roll out of the turn sending the craft nose-first into the ground.
The impact was so violent that parts of the airplane were scattered for dozens of feet around the crash site and caused the wreckage to burst into flames. The crash ignited a one-acre wildfire. The plane was operated by Chino-based Duke’s Flying Club. “According to the manager of DFC, the flight was an introductory lesson for the student pilot with a destination of Lake Mathews, located about 15 miles southeast of Chino,” says the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report. “He stated that the (instructor) joined DFC in June… and that this was his second flight with the club.”
The NTSB examination of the wreckage revealed that the airplane struck the ground in a near vertical nose-down attitude. The impact attitude and the witness’s description of the rocking wings followed by an immediate nose-down descent both are consistent with an aerodynamic stall. The airplane’s design was such that uncoordinated flight control input close to stall speed could result in an unrecoverable spin.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
An aggressive flight maneuver performed by the pilot during low altitude flight, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall.
Sources for this story include:
• RICHARD BROOKS | The Press-Enterprise | 2 August 2011
• NTSB Aviation Accident Database
• Live Video of Crash Uploaded to YouTube