Downwind landing goes bad

Aircraft: Cessna 206. Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Minor. Location: Homer, Alaska. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The accident happened during an approach to a lake. Just as the airplane touched down, a gust of wind lifted the left wing  and the right wing struck the water. The airplane nosed over abruptly, and the cabin immediately filled with water.

The 6,000-hour pilot, 70, estimated the wind to be from 130° at 10 knots, with peak gusts between 12 to 14 knots. However, a pilot-rated witness who observed the accident from the southeastern shoreline reported that the wind was strong and gusty out of the northeast at 20 to 25 knots at the time.

The witness said the floatplane made a downwind landing and that the approach was fast and the Cessna touched down in a slightly nose down, left-float-low attitude. The nose of the left float dug into the water, the left wing struck the water, and the airplane rapidly nosed over.

On this airplane, the right rear cargo door is blocked by the wing flap when it is extended. After the accident, the pilot and three of the passengers were able to get out of the airplane by bending that door and sliding through the small opening they created. The fourth passenger was unable to exit through the door. Investigators determined the nature of her injuries made it unlikely that the blocked exit contributed to her death.

Based on the witness’s statement and the damage to the airplane and its floats, investigators determined it is likely that the pilot misjudged the wind conditions and landed with a strong, gusty tailwind.

Probable cause: The pilot’s improper evaluation of the weather conditions and his subsequent downwind water landing in gusting wind conditions, which resulted in a nose-over.

NTSB Identification: ANC12FA073

This July 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. roberthdavidson says

    What ever happened to the go around or checking a shore line trees etc. or looking at the water surface for wind disturbances while still airborne? Landing down wind should have been a last choice. 6,000 hrs of logged flight time sound like they were wasted hours.

  2. Tom says

    A tail wind does not work very well,
    When trying to land on a swell,
    It was destined to sink,
    It flew into the drink,
    These stories we don’t like to tell.

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