Accident Reports 9/8/2006

These September 2004 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: Maule MX-7-235.

Location: Greenville, Fla.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The purpose of the flight was to reposition the float-equipped airplane due to the approach of Hurricane Francis. The pilot visually checked the fuel tanks before the flight and noted the level in both was within three inches from the top.

When the flight was nearing its destination, the engine sputtered. The pilot maneuvered the airplane towards a nearby lake. He turned base and final for landing on the lake with 40° of flaps selected. The airplane cleared tall trees near the lake. The pilot pushed the yoke forward to descend, which caused the airplane to accelerate.

He landed on the water but did not have adequate room to decelerate and the left wing collided with a cypress tree. The pilot said the loss of engine power was due to fuel exhaustion. According to a mechanic who helped recover the airplane, both fuel tanks were drained and about 1.5 gallons of fuel were recovered. The mechanic further reported that the total unusable fuel capacity for each fuel tank is 1.5 gallons.

Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate in-flight planning and decision making, which resulted in fuel exhaustion.

Aircraft: Cessna 152.

Location: Waycross, Ga.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was attempting to land on a 3,000 x 200-foot sod runway. Because of tall trees on the approach end of the runway, he established a steeper than normal approach, resulting in a faster than normal approach speed. The airplane touched down about 500 feet beyond the approach end of the runway. After landing, he applied the brakes but the airplane did not stop. It hydroplaned down the runway, running off the end, colliding with a fence, and coming to rest on a highway. The pilot said he wasn’t aware the sod was wet until he couldn’t stop.

Probable cause: The pilot’s misjudging of the approach speed, and the hydroplaning of the airplane during the landing roll, resulting in an overrun of the runway and the subsequent collision with a fence.

Aircraft: Fairchild M-62A-3.

Location: Corsicana, Texas.

Injuries: 2 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: Several people at the airport reported that the pilot had been tinkering with the airplane’s engine prior to takeoff. A can of solvent and sparkplug cleaner were found next to the pilot’s workbench in his hangar the day of the accident. A witness observed the vintage airplane in level flight shortly after it took off. Moments later it dove into the ground. Examination of the carburetor revealed the lower piece of the two piece venturi was dislodged and cocked to one side. The legs of the lower piece were fractured and displayed evidence of carbon. The gasket between the upper and lower body of the carburetor was imploded in two locations. Excessive soot and blackening was observed in the carburetor throat.

Probable cause: The loss of engine power due to a faulty carburetor and the pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed sufficient for flight resulting in an inadvertent stall/spin during the forced landing after takeoff.

Aircraft: Mooney M20D.

Location: Pagosa Springs, Colo.

Injuries: 1 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: Part of the runway was undergoing repairs, so the full length was not available for use. The useable runway was rough and uneven. The pilot, accompanied by his wife, made several attempts to take off but aborted each one. Airport personnel said that when the pilot came into the office, he appeared thoroughly shaken by the experience. It was a hot day and he told them that he had forgotten how to compute density altitude. When asked to produce the aircraft’s operating limitations and weight and balance documents, the pilot couldn’t find them. He told a mechanic that there was a shimmy in the nose wheel steering. The mechanic investigated and told the pilot that the steering linkage was missing and the nose gear assembly was severely worn and repairs would have to be made. The pilot left the airplane for repairs and made arrangements with a local CFI to ferry the aircraft to his home, which was several hours away by car, after repairs had been made. Delivery was postponed on three different occasions over a period of two months when more mechanical problems were discovered. Among the issues that had to be addressed were a leaking fuel tank, faulty VOR receivers, an improperly installed magnetic compass, an airspeed indicator twisted sideways in the panel and severely cracked and worn O-rings in the fuel tanks. The day of the ferry flight the battery required charging, and the airplane required a jump-start. The ferry pilot stated there were several 9-volt and AA batteries on the rear floor and in the door pockets. The flight instructor initiated the run up, then noted that the radios had stopped working. The CFI called the owner and told him the flight would not happen. The owner became upset and asked why the instructor could not make the flight using a handheld radio. The instructor pilot repeated that he would not make the flight.

The owner then rented a car to drive to the airport to ferry the aircraft home himself. The owner/pilot did not use all available runway for the takeoff roll. During the takeoff roll, the airplane departed the left side of the runway and skipped across the ground before striking a 600-pound concrete block and flipping onto its back and exploding into flames.

Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate preflight planning and his failure to maintain directional control.

Aircraft: Air Tractor AT-401B.

Location: Bainbridge, Ga.

Injuries: 1 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was returning from his last aerial application for the day. A witness saw the airplane flying on a heading of north at an altitude of 800 feet agl. The airplane then descended to 500 feet agl. The nose of the airplane pitched up 45° and aircraft rolled inverted, then hit the ground nose-first.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed during an abrupt maneuver, which resulted in a stall and collision with the ground.

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