Rainbow SkyReach BushCat
The pilot reported that he took off in visual meteorological conditions after being weathered in for two days. He further reported that while en route to the destination, he encountered deteriorating weather conditions and opted to land at a nearby field to allow the weather to pass. The pilot reported that the terrain looked “manageable and smooth enough to land on.” He landed using a soft field landing technique, but during the landing roll the nosewheel dug into the grassy terrain, which resulted in a nose over. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the left wing.
The pilot reported that there were no pre-impact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.
A review of the recorded data from the automated weather observation station located about 14 miles southeast of the accident, revealed that, within about 10 minutes of the crash, the wind was 080 degrees true at 5 knots, visibility 5 statute miles and overcast at 800 feet. The pilot reported that the lowest ceiling he encountered was 300 feet AGL.
As a safety recommendation, the pilot reported that he should not have let peer pressure allow him to change his own personal weather minimums.
Probable Cause: The pilot’s decision to fly into deteriorating weather conditions, leading to a precautionary off-airport soft field landing which resulted in a nose gear collapse and the airplane to nose over.
Aeronca 7AC Champ
The pilot of an airplane not equipped with radios or certified for flight into instrument meteorological conditions reported that during the initial climb, “I was in the fog and knew I had to get back down.” The pilot further reported that he navigated the airplane to two other nearby airports with a non-aviation handheld global positioning system, but both airports were fogged in.
After flying for about 30 minutes, the pilot reported that he was concerned with the fuel remaining, due to only taking off with about half-full fuel tanks. He subsequently navigated back to the departure airport and saw the grass runway below him through a hole in the fog. The pilot reported that he “slipped it through” the hole, but his touchdown was about ¾ of the way down the wet grass runway. The pilot attempted to ground loop the airplane within the runway distance remaining, but the airplane continued straight and overran the runway, impacting a ditch and vegetation.
The fuselage and both wings sustained substantial damage. The pilot did not report any mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.
The pilot reported that he did not obtain a weather briefing prior to flight. He also reported that during preflight he observed “a little fog sneaking up over a nearby hill.”
The departure airport was not equipped with an automated weather observing station (AWOS), but an airport with an AWOS 10 nautical miles southwest at the time of departure reported the visibility at ¼ statute miles with fog, a cloud ceiling of 100 feet overcast, and a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 Celsius) and dew point of 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 Celsius).
The Federal Aviation Administration Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (PHAK) in part states: “When the temperature of the air is reduced to the dew point, the air is completely saturated and moisture begins to condense out of the air in the form of fog, dew, frost, clouds, rain, or snow.”
Probable Cause: The pilot’s encounter with instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in an emergency descent through fog, a runway overrun on a wet grass runway, and a collision with a ditch and vegetation. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to obtain a weather briefing prior to the flight.
The solo student pilot reported that he was on final approach for a full stop landing when he observed another airplane waiting for the active runway. He intentionally landed long to accommodate the traffic and then “made [the] decision to keep up speed” in order to exit the runway quickly. He misjudged his speed and the airplane departed the right side of the runway, continued across a taxiway, and then down an embankment before nosing over. He later reported that the wheel brakes were less effective because he had full flaps selected. Also, he had applied aft yoke inputs, which minimized the effectiveness of the nose wheel steering system.
A Federal Aviation Administration inspector examined the wreckage and reported that the airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, empennage, and both wings. The pilot reported there were no pre-impact mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the airplane.
Probable Cause: The student pilot’s improper decision to land long and maintain excessive speed during the landing roll. Contributing to the accident was the student pilot’s decision to maintain full flaps and aft yoke inputs at a higher speed, reducing his ability to stop the airplane on the runway.