This August 2009 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: Air Cam. Injuries: None. Location: Hamilton, Mont. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The pilot performed three takeoffs and landings on a river sandbar. During the last landing, a main landing gear wheel separated from the airplane when an attachment weld sheared. Witnesses on a river raft said the airplane appeared to touchdown on a sand/gravel bar that was within 75 yards of their location. According to witnesses, when the wheel separated, it initially traveled toward them, but then veered away and entered the river. The pilot added power and performed a go-around. When he subsequently landed back at the departure airport, he was unable to maintain directional control of his airplane. The airplane hit objects, and the right side of the fuselage buckled.
Probable cause: The separation of the right main landing gear wheel due to the encounter with soft terrain while landing on an unimproved river sandbar. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s decision to attempt a landing on an unimproved off-airport surface.
For more information: NTSB.gov NTSB Identification: WPR09CA421