Bambi bends Mirage

This April 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: Piper Mirage. Injuries: None. Location: Clemson, S.C. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The airport was bordered by a wooded area with no fence separating the two. The pilot was attempting a night takeoff. As the airspeed reached 60 knots, the pilot saw a herd of deer walking across the runway and felt something hit the airplane.

The airplane became airborne and there was another impact. The pilot noticed that the airspeed was decreasing and the stall warning horn was sounding, so he aborted the takeoff. The airplane touched down on the main landing gear and pitched down until the propeller and fuselage hit the runway. The airplane veered off the side of the runway.

It was determined that the airplane hit several deer during the takeoff roll, resulting in substantial damage to the airplane. The airport director stated that deer regularly come on airport property to feed on the vegetation growing around the runway.

Information about the potential for the presence of deer at the airport was not incorporated into the airport’s ASOS broadcasts. Subsequent to the accident, the text “Deer on and Inv of rwy” was added the Airport Remarks section of the airport’s entry in the FAA Airport/Facility Directory.

Probable cause: The airplane’s inadvertent collision with deer during a night takeoff. Contributing to the accident was the lack of a deer barrier between the airport and an adjacent wooded area.

For more information: NTSB Identification: ERA10LA247




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  1. Rod Beck says

    NOTE: Several of the deer were later “arrested” for trespassing, however, they were later released into the wild. The arresting park ranger Megan Ward, 42, later commented,”This deer problem now will come to halt since the new “law” forbidding grazing near a public or private airport has been in affect”.

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