The pilot, who was conducting a wildlife survey flight in the Aviat A-1B, had been airborne about 2.5 hours, when the observer said he would like to take a break.
At that time, the flight was over a high mesa covered in short grass near Fort Smith, Mont., which the pilot decided was a suitable landing area.
The touchdown was smooth, but the plane encountered undulating terrain during the rollout and began to bounce. The pilot added full power to abort the landing, and the speed began to increase; however, the pilot was unable to take off before hitting a bush.
The airplane traveled several hundred feet down a ravine and came to an abrupt stop. The airplane’s main landing gear collapsed, and both wings sustained substantial damage.
The accident resulted in one serious and one minor injury.
The pilot estimated that the density altitude at the landing site was about 8,950 feet. He stated that the accident could have been avoided had he “made the decision not to land off-airport in that area at such density altitudes.”
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s improper decision to land on rough terrain at a high density altitude.
NTSB Identification: WPR13CA213
This July 2013 accident report is are provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.