He did a half loop in 400' of vertical after takeoff? 400' of vertical for a 7000lb airplane? YGTBFSM! his wing 'suddenly' drops and he goes straight down: helloo? what part of inverted stall and spin does this not fit? He went straight down because he had no forward velocity. For that radius loop you need either a very slow initial speed (such as after takeoff) or a whole lot of Gs. A 2000lb Super Decathlon takes about 1000' of vertical for a loop! This is classic overconfident, cocky, pilot attitude: he announced it on the radio for everyone to watch. What if he crashed into an FBO, or a house, and killed people? Stop trying to assign this crash to mechanical failures and look at pilot behavior and aerodynamic evidence.
When your heroes die it is hoped that it is in the context of a noble action and not the result of poor decision making, overconfidence, or disrespect for established safe operating practices. FAA will complete it's official accident investigation with a finding of careless or reckless operation, unauthorized aerobatic flight , along with violations of minimum safe altitudes.
As an FAA inspector I was fortunate to know and work with Mr. Pardue at many airshows during my career. He was a professional pilot admired by thousands. I am therefore astounded by his actions. He attempted a very dangerous and demanding maneuver which ended his life in a less than professional manner. Most likely the NTSB will end their investigation with a result of loss of directional control and impact with the terrain. FAA will conclude the accident was the result of non compliance with regulations. That's a lousy ending for any pilot. To say he lost his life doing what he wanted to do and in a manner which he would have approved are shallow epitaphs.
There was only one good outcome in this accident. No one else died as a result of Mr. Pardue's actions.
Another tragic loss of both man and machine.