The pilot of the Piper Comanche, who had approximately 1,500 hours, including 689 in Piper Comanches, was attempting to land in La Pointe, Wis., after a cross-country flight. A witness heard what he described as a squealing noise.
He looked toward the runway and saw the plane bouncing out of control. He reported that the plane then went to full throttle and pitched nose-up to about 45° as it started climbing.
The witness thought the pilot was going around, then heard an explosion. The airplane crashed in a nearby wooded area and caught fire, killing both the pilot and passenger.
All three propeller blade tips were ground down, consistent with the blades having contact with the runway. The runway exhibited a white media transfer that approximated the path of the slash marks.
In addition, strips of copper were also found on the runway. The airplane was equipped with a white antenna mounted to its underbelly and the recovered strips of copper were consistent in shape with sections of the antenna assembly’s copper sense plate.
Although the landing gear was found extended at the accident site, based on the evidence on the runway and the damage to the propellers and the underbelly antenna, investigators determined it is likely that the pilot did not have the landing gear down during his first landing attempt.
The NTSB determined the probable cause of the accident as the pilot’s failure to maintain control after deciding to go around after a gear-up landing, resulting in an aerodynamic stall.
NTSB Identification: CEN13FA351
This June 2015 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.