This December 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: Piper Cherokee Injuries: None. Location: Ely, Minn. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: According to the pilot, about five minutes after takeoff, the cabin door opened about a quarter of an inch. He turned the airplane around to return for landing to close the door. The runway was covered with snow. During the landing rollout, the pilot noticed the airplane pulling to the left. He applied right rudder to keep the airplane on the runway centerline, but as the airplane slowed it pulled harder to the left. The pilot increased power in an attempt to increase rudder effectiveness. He did not use right brake to maintain directional control. The airplane went sideways into a snow bank. The pilot determined that the left wheel did not rotate during landing but instead plowed through the snow on the runway.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain directional control during landing. Contributing to the accident were the reduced left main landing gear wheel rotation for undetermined reasons and the snow-covered runway.
For more information: NTSB.gov