The pilot of the multiengine, retractable-landing-gear Aerostar 600A reported that, during the initial climb, he “noted 105 IAS [indicated airspeed] as normal and reached down to retract the gear.”
He added that he “glanced down” to make sure he had grabbed the landing gear selector, and when he looked back outside, the airplane was “near the runway.”
He “pulled back hard on the yoke,” but the propellers struck the runway at the airport in Tallahassee, Florida, and the airplane then settled on the runway and skidded into the grass to the left.
The pilot reported in the National Transportation Safety Board Form 6120.1 Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report Safety Recommendation section that the airplane was “not high enough above [the] ground to raise the gear,” and he may have “relaxed back-pressure on the yoke after rotation,” and when leaning slightly forward for the gear handle, the yoke may had been pushed forward slightly.
The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage.
The FAA’s Airplane Flying Handbook stated, in part: Avoid premature landing gear retraction and do not retract the landing gear until a positive rate of climb is indicated on the flight instruments. If the airplane has not attained a positive rate of climb, there is always the chance it may settle back onto the runway with the gear retracted. This is especially so in cases of premature lift-off. Remember that leaning forward to reach the landing gear selector may result in inadvertent forward pressure on the yoke, which causes the airplane to descend.”
Probable cause: The pilot’s incorrect pitch control and premature landing gear retraction during the initial climb.
NTSB Identification: GAA18CA035
This October 2017 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.