Deep snow traps Cessna

Aircraft: Cessna 150. Injuries: None. Location: Grass Valley, Calif. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was attempting to land on a snow-covered runway.

He obtained an automated weather observation report from the non-towered airport, with no indication on the recording that the runway was closed. Shortly after touchdown, as the airplane began its roll out, the landing gear entered an area of 12-inch-deep snow and the airplane nosed over.

After exiting the airplane, the pilot spoke to the airport manager, who informed him that due to a power outage in the area, he had not been able to update the AWOS recording informing pilots of the runway closure due to snow.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the vertical stabilizer and to both wings. The pilot stated that there were no mechanical abnormalities with the airplane prior to the accident.

Probable cause: The aircraft’s encounter with deep snow during the landing roll out. Contributing to the accident was the airport manager’s failure to update the AWOS recording to reflect the closure of the runway due to snow.

NTSB Identification: WPR11CA148

This February 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. BigOil says

    Indian smoke signals!!! The Government paper work to close a runway/airport if he, the airport manager is lucky and fast would take 3 days. If I had the time I would write down the form numbers to use … DOT, HLS, FAA, city/government. This is what the 51% voted for! It is know one’s fault, except Mother Nature.

  2. Dennis Reiley says

    Power outage? The manager couldn’t put a smoke pot, warning light or some other wave-off device in the middle of the runway to warn off aircraft? Sounds like someone who always takes the easiest way out for himself and the heck with everyone else.

    • says

      I have an airplane in Grass Valley and was there right after this landing, all of us were amazed that the pilot attempted to land there. We had a major snowstorm, with power out for quite some time. There was not just an “area of deep snow”, it was everywhere. Let’s put the blame where it belongs — on the pilot for attempting to land when there was deep snow all over the area. This was obvious from the air.

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