Aircraft: Cessna 177B. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Honesdale, Pa. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The pilot was operating on a temporary certificate in preparation for an FAA competency checkride. The compentency checkride was required following an accident that happened when the pilot delayed a decision to abort a long landing and crashed into trees beyond the end of the runway.
According to witnesses on the ground, on the day of the fatal flight the pilot attempted to land with a tailwind estimated to be at least 10 knots. He did two patterns, resulting in go-arounds.
As the airplane approached the runway a third time, it appeared to be unusually fast. He initiated the flare, floated, then touched down nosewheel first and porpoised several times.
When the airplane was just past the windsock, which was about 1,200 feet from the runway’s departure end, engine power was applied, and the airplane’s nose pitched up excessively high. The airplane stalled at an estimated 200 to 300 feet above the runway and began a spin to the left, completing about 180° of rotation before hitting the ground with power on.
The post-flight examination did not uncover mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.
Post-flight toxicology testing revealed that the pilot had ingested an over-the-counter sedating antihistamine in a quantity that exceeded the therapeutic dosage rate. The antihistamine, which is not FAA-approved for use during piloting, carries a warning that it may impair mental and motor skills.
Probable cause: The pilot pitching the airplane to an excessive nose-up attitude during an aborted landing, which resulted in increased induced drag, diminished airspeed, and an aerodynamic stall/spin. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s use of a sedating antihistamine, which resulted in impaired mental and motor skills.
NTSB Identification: ERA12FA319
This May 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.