Ground loop for Piper Pacer

Aircraft: Piper Pacer. Injuries: None. Location: Fairbanks, Alaska. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was attempting to land on a hard surfaced runway. When the airplane was about 6 inches above the runway, a gust of wind lifted the right wing, the left main landing gear touched down hard, and the airplane veered to the left. The pilot was unable regain control, and the airplane ground looped to the left.

The pilot stated that the accident could have been prevented had a go-around decision been made at the initial recognition of the wind gust.

Probable cause: The pilot’s loss of directional control during landing. Contributing to the accident was his decision not to initiate a go-around.

NTSB Identification: ANC12CA030

This April 2012 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. C Gerker says

    A great ag-pilot and primary instructor that I started with 4 decades ago, stated. As long as the engine is still running you have the option of going around. When it feels right then land.

  2. Tom says

    While a “gust of wind” from the right could indeed have lifted the right wing, the right wing could have also been lifted because if there had was a right crosswind and if the approach was made in a crab then application of left rudder to straighten the nose to land could have also raised the right wing and without additional application of more right alereon the aircraft could have easily responded by “veering” (drifting) to the left side of the runway but of course all of this “theory” is no substitute for being “behind” the aircraft and not having a, so to speak “natural ability” (for want of a better term) to quickly have a clear recognition of what the aircraft is doing followed by a quick correct control input – read that “aviate”.

  3. Dale Rust says

    Having soloed in 1954 in an Aeronca 7 AC and subsequently instructed in many tailwheel aircraft (presently a Wright Bros. 50 year Awardee), I can state at least a couple of ‘truisms’. The ‘Pacer’ is somewhat ‘short coupled’ meaning it has a shorter fuselage than, say, the typical tailwheel aircraft, and it’s ground looping tendency is therefore a little higher. Also, landing on a hard surface as opposed to landing on grass has it’s nuances. There is more friction between tires and hard surface as opposed to grass; therefore things happen ‘quicker’, if you land just slightly out of alignment with travel direction. This creates directional control challenges.

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