Aircraft: Cessna 180. Injuries: None. Location: Eau Claire, Wis. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: During a personal sightseeing flight in the late afternoon, the pilot landed the airplane at a controlled airport without contacting the control tower.
According to the manager of an FBO at the airport, the pilot didn’t know what airport he was at, and was unsure of how to get to his intended destination.
Although the manager reminded him to do so, the pilot did not contact the control tower during his departure.
While en route, it became dark, and the airplane experienced a loss of electrical power. The pilot spent an hour trying to find an airport to land at. At the time, the sky was clear and the visibility was 10 miles. The pilot elected to land on a road. The airplane hit a pole.
The post-accident examination revealed that the battery had a low power state.
Probable cause: The pilot’s disorientation during a night flight, which resulted in an off-airport landing, and his inadequate directional control during the landing roll. Contributing to the accident was the loss of the airplane’s electrical system power.
NTSB Identification: CEN12LA060
This November 2011 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.