The private pilot of the Piper airplane with a passenger on board was landing at the airport in Sebring, Florida, while the student pilot of the Diamond airplane with a flight instructor on board was performing touch-and-go landings on an intersecting runway in day visual meteorological conditions.
Both airplanes were flying in left traffic patterns for their respective runways at the uncontrolled airport.
The Piper pilot and the student pilot in the Diamond reported they announced every leg of the traffic pattern on the airport’s published common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF).
The Diamond landed, and just when the student was adding power to initiate a takeoff, the left wing of the Piper, which was landing and flaring just a few feet above the runway, hit the tail of the Diamond.
The flight instructor in the Diamond said he was looking for the Piper after he saw it flying in the vicinity of the airport, but that he never saw it in the airport traffic pattern, while the pilot of the Piper did not report seeing the Diamond until just before the collision.
Recordings of the airport’s CTAF showed that radio calls from the Diamond were heard for every leg of the airport traffic pattern on the published CTAF frequency before the collision, but only two garbled radio calls from the Piper were heard on the published CTAF frequency.
Post-accident examination of the Piper’s transceiver revealed that it was set to a different frequency. The Piper’s transceiver was then set to the correct CTAF frequency, and the communication was clear. Therefore, it is likely that the pilot of the Piper failed to use the correct CTAF frequency when he announced his airplane’s position in the airport traffic pattern.
Probable cause: The inability of the pilot of the Piper and the student pilot and flight instructor of the Diamond to see and avoid the other airplane. Contributing to the collision was the Piper pilot’s failure to use the correct common traffic advisory frequency to announce his airplane’s position.
This September 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.