Delayed go-around leads to crash

Aircraft: Mooney M20F. Injuries: 3 Serious. Location: McKinnon, Tenn. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was attempting to land on runway 8, which measured 3,000 feet. He noted that the 3,000-foot runway was the shortest one he had ever attempted to land on.

During the approach he noted the winds were shifting from east to west. The airplane was high and fast on final. He decided to go around and added power, but did not retract the landing gear or the flaps. The airplane collided with a line of trees about 700 feet beyond the end of the runway.

Probable cause: The pilot’s delayed decision to go-around after failing to recognize that he was attempting to land with a tailwind, and his failure to retract the landing gear and wing flaps for the go-around, which resulted in a collision with trees and terrain near the departure end of the runway.

NTSB Identification: ERA12LA292

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. Jim klick says:

    Practicing the appropriate technique for the appropriate situation is something every pilot who
    aspires to become an aviator should do.
    As background for my opinion, I was awarded the FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award in
    2011. I have owned a few airplanes, as well as a hot air balloon.
    I have flown into Oshkosh during the convention in several different airplanes, including my
    S1S Pitts that I owned for 18 years.
    Last year I aquired an Aeronca L-16A. To practice for Oshkosh, I flew the traffic pattern at 90,
    Landed on the numbers; again at 90, landed at the first taxiway; again at 90, landed at the second taxiway.
    Then did the same, flying at 80, did it again at 70, and again at 60.
    Anyone flying to Oshkosh should do the same, using several different airspeeds appropriate
    for their airplane.
    When Oshkosh Tower told me they would call my turn to base, behind the three Stearmans,
    And wanted me on the Green Dot on 27, it was a non event, even with the wind from 300
    at 12,G 18.
    Not bragging, just offering an opinion on how to be a better, safer aviator.

  2. Sorry TOM but your “inquisitive mind” has failed you this time.

  3. All you people need to get over the medical. As Bluestar says, the medical is a separate issue, having absolutely nothing to do with whether a pilot is properly trained or not.

  4. Len Assante says:

    While not defending the pilot or his technique, and also while not wanting to wade into the larger debate about medical issues, I would like to just say that I have landed at the airport in question several times. The Tennessee River sits just west of the runway, while fairly tall hills are just east, with tall trees all around. The airport is very popular with area pilots for the $100 hamburgers to be found at the restaurant across the street. There are no planes based there -100% transient traffic. The terrain helps create a tendency to be high on approach, especially landing to the west. This is not the first such accident at this place, and I doubt it will be the last.
    In Tennessee, 5000′+ runways are the norm, and I think pilots sometimes have a tendency to get a little complacent and land high and fast, knowing there is often still a mile of runway ahead of them. I was taught full stall landings on the numbers with full flaps, because we had 2170′ with powerlines and trees where I learned. EVERY landing was a short-field landing. I have 6300′ at my base now, and I still land on the numbers with the stall horn blaring. Some fellow pilots shake their heads, but I’d argue short field technique is a valuable tool in your kit, no matter how long your runway.

    • brett hawkins says:

      Excellent comment. Unless you fly a tail dragger with limited forward visibility and have to wear down your brake pads S-turning 3/4 of a mile to your hangar at the other end of a long runway. Different landing points for different situations.

    • While you are correct and I commend you on the contention that short field technique is indeed a valuable tool, I would add it is more than a tool – it’s more like a necessity because without a grasp on short field technique it’s somewhat doubtful that the pilot has a good grasp of where the aircraft will end up in ANY situation particularly when the mill stops turning. Now having said all of that, I don’t agree with your making all of your landings on a 6300 foot runway on the numbers with the stall horn blaring. First because it’s not necessary (even to be performing necessary practice) because you can pick a spot anywhere up the runway to “practice” your spot landings but secondly you are taking a chance that you just might come up short of the pavement – think about it.

  5. There’s pilots and there’s airplane drivers. 3000 feet to land a M20F?? Plenty of runway. This is not really an “accident” report; it’s an inept pilot report

  6. “Mooney’s” statement “Given the option, how many…pilots…would forgo (the medical for dual instruction)…” is not the issue. That is simply apples and oranges similar to the choice of being hung with a new rope or an old rope when nobody wants to be hung with either type of rope. The issue of whether the medical has ever served a reasonable purpose of significance of safety is one issue and we can all agree that it doesn’t but that doesn’t mean that we need the FAA on our backs to force everybody to “dumb down” (so to speak) to force everybody to be trained unnecessarily as a knee jerk reaction to every situation where a particular pilot didn’t perform to a proper “standard” and caused an accident. Pleeeeeeeeeeze don’t imply that to reduce GA accidents that the FAA should now require more pilot training. Sounds like CFI lobbying to me. Be careful for what you are asking for because you might get something you don’t want.

  7. 3000 feet has nothing to do with this bad performance…it is just an excuse. Complacency is the culprit. You need to fly the plane consistantly….set up the approach with plans to touch down at the same point no matter the runway (definitely the first third of distance/length, but you should aim to get close to the top of the numbers or designated touch down aim point). His comment about the length sounds like someone who is not consistant, is not familiar with his aircraft POH, and/or flys out of mile long runways and comes in hot with lots of float because he feels he can afford to do so. By the way, our runway is 2200 feet long, and people land Mooneys, Bonanzas, and Cirrus aircraft with no real issues. andand people fly Moo

  8. brett hawkins says:

    Every pilot who regularly flies the same plane develops personal policies, in particular, about comfortable runway length. I fly an experimental which probably lands as fast or faster than a Mooney and I want to see at least 3000 ft of runway, on a “standard day”, before I think about setting down. I’ve landed shorter into headwinds and/or with strong braking, but don’t make a habit of trying to do so. I am sure competent Mooney pilots safely operate with shorter runways. I am sympathetic but this guy should have done his training without passengers aboard.

  9. As usual, Mooney hit the nail on the head

  10. Given the option, how many of the licensed private pilots today would forgo a class three medical certification by taking annually two hours of dual instruction which would include a variety of stressful coditions, such as a delayed go around in an airplane that clearly has the competence to complete the tasks. Another case of the FAA not being concerned with bottom line results; reduce GA accidents.

    • Bluestar says:

      Sorry Mooney, I humbly disagree with your comment. The medical is a separate process, and it’s protocols have nothing to do with poor flying practices. Stupid is as stupid does.

      • Your friend”BJS” above agrees with you now,
        It’s nice to have friends here and about,
        But could there be a conflict of interest some how?
        Just asking as I had some strange doubt.

        You see it crossed my inquisitive mind,
        That “BJS” and “Bluestar” were one in the same,
        Would explain his comment to you that was so kind,
        Was not two guys – but one – using two different names.

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