Two witnesses reported that they saw the pilot performing touch-and-go landings at the airport in Macon, Ga.
During takeoff, the Piper J3C-65 lifted off about halfway down the runway and began a right turn to the crosswind leg of the traffic pattern when it was about 100 feet above ground level (agl). As it began the right turn, its bank angle increased from about 30° to 90°, and its forward speed slowed.
The Cub stalled, rolled right, and descended uncontrolled into a grassy area adjacent to the runway, resulting in two serious injuries.
The recorded wind about the time of the accident was aligned with the departure runway at 11 knots gusting to 20 knots.
FAA guidance advises pilots not to turn to the crosswind leg until the airplane is beyond the departure end of the runway and has reached an altitude of 700 feet agl or higher.
The pilot’s turn at 100 feet agl while in the traffic pattern was too low and did not allow sufficient altitude to recover from an in-flight upset.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s failure to maintain control while maneuvering in the traffic pattern at low altitude in gusting wind. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s improper decision to maneuver in the traffic pattern at a low altitude that did not allow for recovery.
NTSB Identification: ERA14LA137
This February 2014 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.