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Narrative: A aircraft 6 of the USN Blue Angels Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron impacted powerlines and an open field off the departure end of Runway 14 at Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport (KMQY), Smyrna, Tennessee. The airplane was destroyed by the impact and post-impact fire. The sole pilot onboard the aircraft received fatal injuries.
Low cloud, tactical errors and fatigue were factors according to the Navy investigation. The Split-S maneuver was entered at 184 knots, where it should have been 125 to 135, and at 3,200 feet — 300 feet below the required altitude for the maneuver.
Officials are ordering changes that allow Blues pilots to more readily opt out of flying when they're not feeling ready, are reviewing all air show maneuvers and are reworking future air show schedules to give fliers more rest time.
The report states: "It is standard practice for the Blue Angels to update (supersede) their SOPs every year. Because there is no [SOP] archival system in place, the “who, what, where, when, and why” that initiated a change/modification/addition is lost. Case in point, the NFDS has no idea when, who, or why the Split S Solo Dive Recovery procedures were incorporated into the Solo SOP. They do not comply with the F/A-18 Performance Manual Dive Recovery charts."