This May 2008 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.
Aircraft: Maule M-5-235C. Injuries: None. Location: Oljato, Utah. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The pilot overflew the 1,190-foot-long dirt airstrip and thought it appeared safe for landing. The airstrip is in the back country of Utah and is not maintained or attended. According to Federal publications it is an emergency strip to be used when human life is at stake. The pilot said the winds were light and variable and he made a stabilized approach. The airplane touched down long, bounced, and was firmly on the ground by midfield. When he applied brakes he discovered the field was sand. The wheels locked up and the airplane skidded. The pilot lost directional control. The airplane veered off the left side of the runway, went down an incline, and came to rest on its nose. The pilot told investigators that he had relied upon a non-government publication in his preflight planning that appeared to indicate the airstrip was open for public use. The FAA’s aeronautical chart, while not depicting the airstrip’s location, did show that the area was within the boundary of National Park Service-administered land, and that landing without authorization was prohibited.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to achieve a normal touchdown location and loss of directional control during landing roll out. Contributing to the accident were the runway’s soft surface and short length.
For more information: NTSB.gov