Two CFIs die when Piper hits Cessna on runway

These November 2003 Accident Reports are provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, they are intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Piper Archer and Cessna 180.

Location: Westerly, R.I.

Injuries: 2 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: According to the pilot of the Piper, when he arrived at the uncontrolled airport he attempted to land but felt he was too high on final approach so he elected to do a go around. He then entered left traffic for the runway. He continued in the left-hand traffic pattern, self-announcing his position on the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency. According to the pilot, trees obstructed the view of the threshold portion of the runway and the taxiway leading to the runway. Upon turning on to final approach the Piper pilot saw a Cessna 180 at the displaced threshold line of the runway. Two CFIs were aboard the Cessna. The Piper pilot stated he did not hear any radio transmissions from the Cessna although he did hear transmissions from other aircraft in the vicinity. He said he thought the Cessna would remain in position until after he landed. The Piper pilot continued the approach, and soon after he passed over the runway threshold, he heard the sound of another airplane’s engine, followed by an impact with his aircraft. The Piper pilot performed a forced landing on the runway. The Piper touched down hard and the right main landing gear assembly collapsed. The Piper slid to a stop on the taxiway. According to a witness on the ground the Cessna was about 100 feet above the runway at full power when the collision occurred. The Cessna pitched up sharply after impact, then stalled. It hit the ground nose first and came to rest off to the right side of the runway. Both occupants of the Cessna were killed.

Probable cause: The Piper pilot’s improper decision to continue a landing on an occupied runway, which resulted in an in-flight collision with the departing Cessna. Factors related to the accident were the departing Cessna pilot’s inattentive radio communications and the obscured visibility of the traffic pattern from the air and ground by trees located at the departure end of the runway.

Aircraft: Cessna 172

Location: La Grange, Texas.

Injuries: 2 Minor.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The 3,200-hour pilot was attempting to do a VFR cross county flight. Prior to departure, he obtained a weather briefing and learned he would experience a 40 knot head wind for the duration of the trip. He estimated the duration of the flight to be three hours, 50 minutes. He became lost while attempting to navigate using VORs. When he realized he was lost and running low on fuel he executed a precautionary landing in an open field because he could not find an airport. During the landing, the airplane hit a drainage ditch and a fence. The post-crash investigation found very little fuel remaining in the aircraft.

Probable cause: The failure to properly navigate during the day VFR cross-country flight, which resulted in getting lost and running low on fuel. The headwind was a factor.

Aircraft: American Champion 7GCAA.

Location: Pacoima, Calif.

Injuries: 1 Minor.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The student pilot was practicing touch and go landings on a calm wind day. During the roll out following the third landing, the airplane began to drift to the left. The pilot added full power and a combination of left aileron and right rudder in an effort to stay on the runway, but the airplane went off the runway. The right wheel collided with a taxiway sign and the airplane continued to the left, crossing a taxiway and colliding with an unoccupied airplane.

Probable cause: The failure to maintain directional control during the landing roll, which resulted in a collision with a sign and an unoccupied airplane.

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