The pilot departed from the airport in West Cobb, Arkansas, in his Just Aircraft Highlander to practice a short takeoff and landing (STOL) race circuit in preparation for a race that was going to occur at the airport.
As he was on approach for landing, he noticed the wind speed had increased while he was turning base to final at 60 feet AGL.
He had a 16-mph buffer above the airplane’s aerodynamic stall speed, with two notches of flaps applied, and a 15° bank turn.
The airplane was then “hit by a gust” that elevated the right wing to about 30° of bank, he told investigators.
He attempted to correct the high bank angle with no success.
He told the investigators “all of my lift disappeared,” and the airplane became uncontrollable at about 55 feet AGL.
He concluded that a “large tail wind shear” aerodynamically stalled the airplane, and he was unable to recover at the low altitude with the various obstacles and structures present on the STOL race circuit course. The airplane “pancaked” and came to rest upright in a field, next to a fence line.
The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and both wings. The pilot was seriously injured in the crash.
A review of meteorological data showed that gusting wind conditions and low-level wind shear were likely present in the area at the time of the accident.
Probable Cause: The airplane’s encounter with gusting wind conditions and low-level wind shear on final approach, which resulted in a loss of control, an aerodynamic stall, and a subsequent hard landing.
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This September 2021 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.