The pilot departed in the Piper PA-28 with 10 gallons of fuel to practice crosswind landings at a nearby airport.
About one hour later and during an approach, he was aiming to land on the runway numbers at the airport in Batavia, Ohio. Shortly before flying over the airport perimeter fence, he reported that “either wind shear or a sudden downdraft dropped the plane.”
The nose landing gear hit the fence, and the airplane hit the ground short of the intended runway.
In a followup interview with the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge, the pilot reported that, during the approach, the engine was running the entire time without issues.
He added that, once he encountered the downdraft, he applied full power, but the airplane continued descending with “no appreciable response.”
He reported that he did not use carburetor heat during the approach.
The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and horizontal stabilator.
A review of recorded data from the automated weather observation station located on the airport revealed that, about the time of the accident, the wind was from 210° at 8 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clouds overcast at 1,100′, temperature 68°F, dew point 63°F, and altimeter 29.96 inches of mercury.
Review of the FAA Carburetor Icing Chart for the given temperature and dew point revealed that the conditions were conducive to “serious icing (glide power).”
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to apply carburetor heat in conditions conducive to carburetor icing, which resulted in a partial loss of engine power during landing.
NTSB Identification: GAA18CA038
This November 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.