Stephen Canady had, for several years, performed with the Missouri-originated Ozark Mountain Daredevils. OMD was best known for its early 70’s hits “Jackie Blue” and “So You Wanna Get to Heaven,” both recorded before Canady had joined the band on drums and guitar. The Daredevils had many iterations, usually centered around founders Steve Cash, John Dillon, and Mike Granda. Canady had left the Daredevils long before the remake album Jackie Blue debuted, spending time as tour manager for Lee Roy Parnall and Marshall Chapman. By 1999 he was long out of music, and was working in a camera shop in Nashville.
On the morning of September 25, 1999, Canady and his friend, Nashville software developer Charles Loudermilk, took off on a scenic flight around Nashville in Loudermilk’s T-6. Loudermilk was flying with Canady in the jump-seat. They took of from Nashville International Airport at 10:50 in the morning. Loudermilk had requested permission for a low-level flight over downtown Nashville, which was granted. Ten minutes after takeoff, the two had completed one orbit of Nashville; then, the T-6 disappeared from radar scopes, and did not acknowledge efforts at radio contact.
The remnants of the craft and the occupants were found scattered over a 15,000sqft area, in a field amidst several suburban homes. The wings were lodged in a tree and most of the fuselage had collided with a small officebuilding. According to the National Transportation Safety Board’s summary of probable cause, before the crash the T-6 was traveling below 1,000 feet before it “entered a nose low attitude, rolled inverted, and disappeared behind buildings. A witness near the accident site observed the airplane as it collided with a tree.” Other witnesses observed occasional sputtering of the engine, indicating that Loudermilk had not kept the mixture sufficiently rich to maintain airspeed. No evidence of mechanical failure was evident in the nearly half-century old aircraft.
Loudermilk as an experienced pilot with 1,300 hours in the air and both multiengine and instrument ratings. He had three hours of instruction in the T-6 and, according to his flight instructor, “refused additional instructions, and did not return to finish the flight training program.” Canady too was an experienced pilot with over 2,000 hours of flight time. A blood toxicology screen on pilot/owner Charles Loudermilk revealed Benzoylecgonine in the blood and liver specimens (Benzoylecgonine is an inactive metabolite of cocaine. This last evidence led the National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as “pilot's failure to maintain flying speed which resulted in a stall and the loss of control. A factor was pilot impairment due to the use of drugs.”
About the T-6: The T-6 is a single-engine rotary monoplane developed in the late 1930s as a trainer for US Army Air Corps pilots. Known variously as the Texan, the Harvard, and the Mosquito, the T-6 also saw use as a forward air battle control aircraft and is an air show standard. The T-6 is also familiar to war movie buffs, redressed as a proxy for Japanese Mitsubishi Zeroes and various other World War II torpedo planes and dive bombers.