The pilot reported that, before a local flight, he placed the airplane’s wing and canopy covers and his small dog in the baggage compartment of the Lancair Legacy.
During the initial climb, after retracting the landing gear, the cockpit canopy, which tips forward for entry into the cockpit, came unlatched and opened to about a 45° angle. He attempted to close and relatch the canopy to no avail and decided to return to the departure airport in Friday Harbor, Washington.
After extending the landing gear on final, the airplane lost speed, and the descent rate increased. He applied full power, but the airplane landed hard and short of the runway, and the landing gear collapsed.
The pilot reported that the airplane had an after-market, drop-down step kit that had been removed. However, while the step mechanism had been removed, the brackets that extended into the baggage compartment had been overlooked. The brackets were attached to the canopy latching mechanism, and he believed his dog accidently hit the protruding brackets and inadvertently opened the canopy in flight.
The airplane sustained substantial damage to the center wing spar.
The pilot reported that, before the canopy opened, there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.
Probable cause: The pilot’s inability to maintain the landing flare, which resulted in the airplane landing hard short of the runway. Contributing to the accident was the cockpit canopy opening in flight.
NTSB Identification: GAA18CA104
This January 2018 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.