Warbird crashes on landing

This March 2010 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: North American P-51D. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Chandler, Ariz. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The 54-year-old pilot had logged about 4,890 hours, including 49.5 hours in the P-51. According to witnesses, the airplane made several low passes over the runway before the pilot elected to land. The airplane bounced several times after touchdown followed by the nose pitching up 20°.

The airplane became airborne about 20 feet above the runway surface, then stalled. The left wing dropped down about 20° and the nose yawed to the left of the runway heading. The pilot lowered the nose and added power to recover from the stall.

Despite his apparent efforts, these inputs were not sufficient to maintain directional control or alignment with the runway. The airplane went off the runway, crossing the grass infield and a taxiway.

Witnesses reported that even after veering off the runway the airplane continued to accelerate, giving the appearance that the pilot was attempting to attain flying speed and depart. The airplane briefly became airborne before hitting a large rock and fence post. It continued across the parking ramp, hit a hangar, and caught fire.

Probable cause: The pilot’s improper flare, resulting in a bounced landing, stall, and loss of directional control.

For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB Identification: WPR10LA156



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