During a night cross-country flight in VFR conditions, the pilot of the Piper Cherokee decided to make a landing at the airport in Livingston, Texas, prior to continuing to his final destination.
He over-flew the airport, then entered a standard left-hand traffic pattern. He said everything was normal until nearing his flare to land on final approach when the runway lights began to disappear from his view for an unknown reason.
He added power to execute a go-around but touched down just left of the runway’s surface. The touchdown was gentle, so he elected to abandon the go-around and reduced power.
The right wing and landing gear of the airplane hit several taxi signs before the pilot was able to get the airplane back on the runway. The airplane sustained substantial damage.
After exiting the airplane, the pilot discovered that the grass surrounding the runway had not been cut and was waist high, which obscured the runway lighting as the airplane descended on short final approach. Because of the tall grass, the pilot said he was not able to see and avoid the taxi signs.
The NTSB determined the probable cause of the accident as the pilot’s decision to not perform a go-around when he lost sight of the runway while on final approach to land at night. Contributing to the accident was the tall grass which obscured the runway edge lights.
NTSB Identification: CEN13CA3
This April 2013 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.