The airplane had not been flown for about 5 months and the purpose of the accident flight was a maintenance test flight after both engines had been replaced with higher horsepower models. Witnesses observed the airplane depart and complete two uneventful touch-and-go landings. The airplane was then observed to be struggling to gain altitude and airspeed while maneuvering in the traffic pattern.
The CASA was on a paradropping flight when all 16 para’s were forced to jump off at an altitude of about 3000m. The CASA returned to Agen airfield, but control was lost and the aircraft crashed some 500m short of runway 11.
Surviving skydivers said that as the airplane was climbing to the jump altitude of 10,500 feet agl, the stall warning horn sounded intermittently several times. They paid no particular attention to it because they had heard it on previous flights. When the airplane reached the jump altitude, the pilot signaled for one of the parachutists to open the door. When she did, she told the pilot that the airplane had overshot the drop zone by approximately 1 mile.
The pilot of ZK-KAY, a Pacific Aerospace PAC 750XL, was flying under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) on a cross-country flight, tracking south-east, close to Blithfield Reservoir. The pilot and passenger of Luscombe 8E Silvaire Deluxe G-AKUI were on a local flight from their base near the reservoir. G-AKUI entered a turn to the right shortly prior to the collision, possibly to avoid a third aircraft which later radar analysis showed was near.
Opening act was for 3 jumpers to exit from jump-plane (j/p) at 3500′ agl; 2 jumpers were to join at 2000′ to display flag, while 3rd jumper was to circle above. N90bc & n31485 were to circle jumpers in opposite directions. N90bc was to circle clockwise, outside turn radius of n31485, which would circle counterclockwise. When 2 of 3 jumpers exited from j/a, pilot of n31485 banked left into spiral, apparently unaware of 3rd jumper.
The engine lost power as the pilot made a power reduction shortly after takeoff. During a forced landing in a christmas tree crop, the airplane stalled about 90 ft agl. Investigation revealed that the muffler cones were missing. Witnesses and the pilot stated that the temperature was 40 deg f and the dew point aprx 36 deg. That combination is within the range favorable to induction system icing.
Both acft were operating in vfr conditions modified by slight haze, high overcast and low sun angle near airport. N6161m was performing lazy eight maneuvers in a normal practice area two miles east of airport; n8267q was in clockwise orbital descent for landing following a parachute jump plane. Radar data and witness informtion show that on east side of airport, n8267q deviated from orbit and proceeded southeast as n6161m completed north end of figure eight in right turn away from airport and proceeded south. Acft converged at about 30 degree closing angle with n6161m climbing and n8267q descending and collided at about 2500 ft agl.