Night flight, night crash

Aircraft: Piper Cherokee 6. Injuries: 2 Serious. Location: Bridgeport, Conn. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The purpose of the flight was for the pilot to regain night currency, which had lapsed two weeks before.

The pilot, who was familiar with the airport, said he intended to perform three full stop landings.

According to the pilot, the first takeoff and initial climb out to a left downwind were normal. He reported that there was a slight haze in the vicinity of the airport. While turning to the base leg of the approach, he trimmed the airplane for 90 mph and lowered the flaps to the “first notch.”

The pilot reported he saw “two white lights” on the vertical approach slope indicator, which indicated that he was above the glideslope, so he adjusted the trim to maintain 80 mph and lowered the flaps to the “third notch.” The left wing collided with a 12-foot-tall blast fence, which was located 20 feet from the end of the runway.

After the accident, the pilot stated that the blast fence was indistinguishable from the runway threshold markings. The blast fence was properly marked with red and white checker markings on the interior side and was not required to be lit by FAA facility requirements.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from a blast fence on final approach to land.

NTSB Identification: ERA11CA365

This June 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. Fritz Katz says

    So now while EAA and GAN censor FAA defenders, everyone else gets to take a cheapshot at government employees?

    Hey DICK,

    WTF is yer point?

    Just another right wing anti-government insurrectionist Faux News teabagger looking to vent like all those ganging up on FAA ATC for its long overdue attempt in behalf of struggling, nonflying American taxpayers to recover ON SITE costs for our annual “world’s largest” Oshkosh GA party…. or did you believe Craig “RNC” Fuller’s blatant lies that the $100 fee applies to your C150?

    For your information (most others knew and appreciated this already) the NTSB has the most highly qualified, experienced, intelligent, diligent air safety investigators in the world…including whichever one was assigned to this case (if any … non-fatals are often assigned to area FSDO staff most of whom have taken lengthy in-residence OK City accident investigator courses).

    Their task concludes with assigning a brief probable cause.

    Would you have preferred just “Pilot error”?

    Were you too lazy to even click and read the brief report itself?

    Apparently — so to help you out of your ignorance chew this:

    The guy’s first mistakes were being illegal (night currency had lapsed yet took a passenger) and too cheap a Fokker to spend the money to pay a night-and-make/model current local CFI to come along (would then be OK to have pal in back). They’re abundantly available, could really use even that little bit of extra income and (far more than just a pal or fellow pilot) can issue priceless cautions and catch errors at the incipient stage.

    His second mistake was not continuing to periodically monitor the VASI after initially being high and white (could possibly also describe the pilot… see LAX83FA051 where the rear seat passenger had been smoking joints for the duration of the flight).

    His final mistake was preflight — not reviewing runway obstacles he was quite familiar with.

    You can see this fence clearly yourself… he probably drove by it every time he went to the airport… by looking at a Google satellite view of BDR and going to street view at “425 Main St, Stratford, CT”

    But a significant contributing factor in this accident is the obstinate refusal of the 1%ers in Stratford, CT, to permit (without a legal fight which the same FAA that cheapass GAN/EAA posters hate so much lately IS WINNING) expansion of runway overruns and relocation of that blast fence and portion of the road.

    Nice try, DICK.

  2. Richard says

    “Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from a blast fence on final approach to land.”
    How much do these guys who determine the cause of a crash make? The plane hit the fence. I wonder how long it took them to determine the cause in this case?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *