Distracted pilot flips floatplane

Aircraft: Cessna 206. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Stanwood, Wash. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot, 55, held multiple ratings, including Airline Transport Pilot. He had logged more than 4,200 hours, including 474 hours in seaplanes. The accident airplane was mounted on amphibious floats. Within the previous 90 days to the accident, the pilot had logged 4.7 hours in the accident airplane.

The pilot, accompanied by his son as a passenger, was part of a flight of three floatplanes flying from a land-based airport to a nearby lake. The pilot reported that this was his first time landing on the lake.

He was in trail behind the other two airplanes. As he approached the lake for a landing between the wakes made by the other airplanes, he got into a discussion with his son and forgot to retract the landing gear for the water landing.

During touchdown, the nose of the airplane dipped. When he reached to retract the flaps and applied back pressure, the airplane nosed over, became submerged and subsequently filled with water. The pilot could not recall raising the landing gear, verifying its position prior to landing or hearing the audible landing gear position-warning alert.

During the post-accident investigation, the pilot reported that 12 days prior to the accident flight, he had suffered a loss of a close family member. The pilot stated that after the accident, he realized that coping with this loss affected his ability to focus his attention and degraded the quality of his sleep in the days before the event. He further stated that it had been more clear to him post accident, as his sleep deprivation had become very obvious.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to confirm the position of the landing gear before landing on water as a result of distraction. Contributing to the accident was the pilot coping with the death of a close family member in the days before the accident, which resulted in a self-reported disruption in the quality of sleep.

NTSB Identification: WPR11FA103

This January 2011 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.


  1. Vaughn S. Price says

    I OPERATED A REPUBLIC SEABEE Seaplane rating school, every flight originated on land, we taught all applicants to raise the gear as a normal procedure, even for ground operations, further, on all retractable gear aircraft the student was required to extend the gear before entering the traffic pattern. this accident was caused by the pilot never having been taught to raise the gear on climb out and lower it before setting up an approach. it should be as much of a habit as pulling on carb heat. Lots of hours and ratings don’t make a safe pilot. Early competent Instruction is the key

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