Wind-shift crimps Cessna

Aircraft: Cessna 180. Injuries: None. Location: Stillwater, Okla. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was attempting a wheel-landing in the tailwheel airplane. The main wheels touched down first but before he was able to get the tailwheel down, the airplane started to weathervane and swerved hard to the right. The wing hit the runway, and the airplane nosed over.

According to the airport’s weather reporting station, the wind shifted from 180° at 3 knots to 330° at 14 knots with gusts to 25 knots at the time of the landing.

Probable cause: The pilot’s on-ground loss of control during the landing roll upon encountering a sudden wind shift and gust.

NTSB Identification: CEN11LA579

This August 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. says

    What was the runway heading? Did the wind change happen during the roll out? It seems unlikely that there was a change of 22 kts and 150 degrees in time it takes to roll out on the runway. I also would question the choice of a wheel landing with a 3 knot wind, apparently what the pilot thought he had on approach. A wheel landing is used in strong gusty wind conditions and is done at a higher airspeed for better control on the landing. I owned a C-180 for many years and I have been instructing in tailwheel aircraft for 37 years.
    It seems very likely to me that the pilot did not have adequate airspeed when he attempted the wheel landing. It’s hard to keep adequate speed with in a tailwind landing. The 180 has a large tail which becomes much less responsive at slower airspeeds. It also serves as a great weather vane.
    The pilot probably touched down relatively slowly in a two or one- wheel landing. He then neglected to use adequate rudder to stop the aircraft from turning into the wind. At that point, he lost control. Since he had been unable to get the tail down before the crosswind caught the tail, the wing dragged the ground, and without full back pressure on the yoke, the plane nosed over. But then, C-180s are a bit like the Stearman, there are those who have, and those who have not yet ground looped.

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