Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Minimal Experience

What’s appropriate in terms of experience may not be found in the FARs

When investigators examined the wreckage that was located in the back- yard of a residence, they noted that the landing gears were extended, but the trim tabs were about neutral in their settings. No pre-impact problems were detected with the airplane and its engines.

Maule M-5-180C
The NTSB said that the pilot's recent minimal experience in the airplane and in operations at a grass airstrip contributed to a loss of control and lack of adequate airspeed during an attempted go-around after the hard, bounced landing and crash of a Maule M-5-180C at Emory, Texas. The pilot was killed.

Visual meteorological conditions existed for the flight which originated at Durant, Okla. The pilot's son told investigators that his father departed Emory at 9 a.m. and flew to Bonham, Texas, to have lunch with a friend. His father telephoned and said he was going to fly to Durant to pick up several boxes of peanuts that he was going to give as Christmas presents. When the son called his father in the early afternoon, the pilot was still in Durant and he expressed concern about the high winds in Durant and Emory.

A witness whose house is near the grass strip was sitting at his kitchen table and saw the airplane land. He said the airplane bounced once, wobbled left and right, came back down and bounced again. Power was added, the airplane went up to about 100 feet, wobbled left and right, then banked hard to the left and spun to the ground. A fire erupted. The witness said there was a strong crosswind from the south and south-southwest. Sheriff's deputies and fire personnel confirmed the winds were "very strong" as they extinguished the fire. Winds at nearby airports were gusting as high as 24 knots.

The pilot, age 80, held a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine, multi-engine, and instrument ratings. His third-class medical certificate was current.

The pilot's logbook was destroyed in the fire. On his last medical application, he estimated he had 1,300 hours. The pilot's son said his father hadn't accumulated many hours in the Maule, and had limited experience flying the airplane from his airstrip. Prior to purchasing the airplane, the pilot hadn't flown for 25 years, and had only recently started flying again.

Beech 58
A Beech 58 crashed while executing a missed approach at the Philip Billard Municipal Airport (TOP) Topeka, Kan. The private pilot and all three passengers were killed. Instrument conditions existed and the airplane was on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan. The flight originated at the Scott City Municipal Airport (TQK), Scott City, Kan.

As the airplane got closer to Topeka, a Kansas City Center controller cleared the flight to descend to 5,000 feet, mean sea level (MSL). The pilot asked which runway was in use. The controller replied runway 31 with the back course localizer approach in use. The controller then asked if the pilot would like vectors to the approach. The pilot said that he would.

A few minutes later, the controller advised the pilot to fly a heading of 340 degrees to intercept the 129-degree radial of the Topeka VOR for the approach. The pilot acknowledged the heading.


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