Mooney goes into ditch

Aircraft: Mooney M20K Injuries: None. Location: Page, Ariz. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: It was dusk when the pilot was taxiing from the transient parking towards the runway for takeoff. He said he was taxiing at a walking pace when he encountered a large ditch at the end of the tarmac. He was unable to avoid the ditch and the propeller and empennage were damaged.

The pilot commented that there were no signs, reflectors, warnings, or other indications that the ditch was there.

The airport manager reported that the taxi route from the transient area is clearly marked with in-ground reflectors that lead to a lit taxiway and then to the runway.

According to the manager, it appeared the pilot proceeded directly to the taxiway from the transient parking area across a set of double solid lines that demarcate the taxiway edge, and continued into a helicopter operating/parking area. From there he crossed a marked service road, past a helicopter landing pad, and past a lit windsock before hitting the drainage ditch. The airport manager added that since the area is clearly marked and only intended for helicopter traffic, there is no extra signage warning of the ditch.

Probable cause: The pilot’s selection of the wrong taxi route and failure to follow prescribed taxi procedures.

NTSB Identification: WPR11CA257

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. Rich says

    Yep, they are ground huggers and not much room for error.
    But taxiiing around in the dark at an unfamiliar airport really increases the chances of something going wrong.
    It pays to know the airport markings and what they mean.
    Really a shame, though.

  2. John Drago says

    I sold my Mooney 20 years ago but my memory is there is about 6 in between the ground and the tip of the prop. I would be careful to taxi around a beer can with the clearence of that airplane. Getting dark, unknown airport. It happens. Too bad, but at least the pilots ego and unfortunately the Mooney was all that was damaged.

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