This September 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: Bellanca 17-30. Injuries: 2 Minor. Location: Clearwater, Fla. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: Approximately 10 minutes before landing after a night flight, the pilot turned on a flashlight to read the checklist items and check the gauges. The flashlight lens was white. Turning on a white light can cause optical illusions and momentarily destroys night vision. During the landing flare she reported the landing light circuit breaker tripped, rendering the landing light inoperative. During the landing roll she reported seeing what she thought was an animal or bird on the runway and applied the brakes. The airplane veered off the left side of the runway onto grass. The landing gear collapsed. Inspection of the airplane by an FAA airworthiness inspector revealed no evidence of pre-impact failure or malfunction of the brakes or landing gear.
Probable cause: The failure of the pilot to maintain directional control during the landing roll. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s improper use of a supplemental cockpit lighting during approach.
For more information: NTSB.gov