Plane & Pilot
Sunday, February 1, 2004

Gone With The Wind

Crosswinds can be deadly, even for the most experienced pilot

The manufacturer provided a “Wind Components” Chart for the Cessna T-R182. The chart had a note reading, “Maximum demonstrated crosswind velocity of 18 knots (this is not a limitation).” The 1979 Cessna T-R182 flight manual defines demonstrated crosswind velocity as “the velocity of the crosswind component for which adequate control of the airplane during takeoff and landing was actually demonstrated during certification tests. The value shown is not considered to be limiting.”

Aviation surface weather observations taken at Joslin Field were reviewed by investigators. At 9:53, the wind was from 170 degrees at 20 knots, with a peak wind gust of 28 knots recorded at 9:53. At 10:53, the wind was from 180 degrees at 19 knots, gusting to 27 knots, with a peak wind gust of 30 knots from 190 degrees recorded at 10:37.

The point of impact was 231 feet perpendicular to and north-northwest of the centerline of runway 12 (155 feet outside of the boundary of the designated safety area for runway 12). The marshalling area consisted of parking for five fuel trucks, side by side, with each truck’s longitudinal axis roughly parallel to the centerline of runway 12. All of the aircraft’s major components were located at the crash site. There was no evidence that any flight control cables were disconnected prior to impact. The flap jackscrew was extended to a point consistent with a five-degree flap extension. The landing gear was observed in an extended condition and the elevator trim jackscrew setting was consistent with a neutral (zero degrees) trim setting. The throttle, propeller control and mixture within the remains of the instrument panel were all in the full-forward position and the control cables had separated from the engine.

The NTSB determined the probable cause of this accident was the pilot’s failure to maintain runway alignment and his failure to execute a timely go-around maneuver, resulting in the aircraft impacting a parked fuel truck well clear of the runway safety area. Contributing factors were the wind conditions and the parked fuel truck.

Mooney M20R
On September 20, 2002, at 6:37 p.m., a Mooney M20R operated by a commercial pilot hit trees and caught fire during an attempted landing at the Mountain Air Country Club Airport in Burnsville, N.C., after a flight from Asheville, N.C. No flight plan was filed for the Part-91 personal flight, nor was one required. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The pilot and passenger received fatal injuries, and the airplane was destroyed by the post-impact fire.

The pilot received wind information from a pilot monitoring the airport UNICOM, then announced she would make a low pass over runway 14 to observe the windsocks. The pilot stated on the radio that conditions were bumpy, then announced she would attempt a landing on runway 14 and, if unsuccessful, she would return to Asheville.

Several witnesses outside on the decks of the country club and restaurant adjacent to the mountaintop runway observed the airplane make a low pass down runway 14, then enter the traffic pattern. Witnesses reported seeing the airplane on a low, flat, final approach to runway 14 with its gear and flaps down. One witness stated the airplane appeared as if it was going to land directly on the numbers, but just prior to reaching the end of the runway, it suddenly banked left and dropped down the mountainside out of view. Two other witnesses reported the airplane appeared to pitch up and bank left, then drop from view. The witnesses then heard a loud crash and observed smoke.


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