PUBLISHED: 15:34 19 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:55 10 October 2012

The test pilot baled out of the C162 prototype, for reasons that are not yet clear

Witnesses on the ground said they saw sparks as the aircraft

fell before crashing into a bank of trees. The pilot was unhurt except for minor injuries.

The aeroplane that crashed

is  the non-conforming prototype 162, which first flew in

March, not the production-spec

SkyCatcher seen at Oshkosh. It had over 150 flying hours. The structure survived the impact largely intact,

with the wing and empennage still attached to the fuselage.

The aircraft was seen to descend in a spiral dive, leading to speculation that the pilot may have been spin testing and was unable to recover. Another possibility is flutter - a relatively common cause of bale-outs from prototypes undergoing testing.

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