WPR13FA405 Probable Cause - Jackson Hole 7-7-2015
7-7-2015 I was driving past the Jackson Hole airport on Tuesday and was reminded of this accident. It was terrible and 2 people I had met were killed. The pilot was very experienced but still crashed. I remarked to my wife how flat and only sage brush around the airport.
Why did the pilot think he could make a turn back to the airport?
Why didn't he just land anywhere in the brush? There is open space everywhere around the airport.
Reading the probable cause report gives a clue.
*** Note: NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report. ..*
The pilot, who was also the owner/builder of the experimental kit airplane, departed for a cross-country flight from his home airport. Witnesses reported that, following departure, they observed the airplane climb to about 500 to 600 ft above ground level while it was maneuvering onto the downwind leg.
Witnesses also reported that the engine was producing abnormal sounds and appeared to lose power. While on the downwind leg, the pilot declared an emergency and indicated that the engine had lost power; the air traffic controller then cleared the airplane to turn right onto the base leg and land. Witnesses reported that, as the airplane was turning from the downwind to the base leg of the traffic pattern, a wing dropped and that the wings were then nearly perpendicular to the terrain.
Given the reported wind speeds, the airplane would have encountered a 13- to 20-knot tailwind on the downwind leg and up to 20-knot right crosswind gusts while on the base leg. The tailwind would have resulted in a groundspeed that was much higher than the airspeed, and the pilot likely did not recognize that the airspeed was low. [/size][/size]
The airplane subsequently made a rapid descent and impacted terrain in a nose-low attitude. Ground scar analysis and wreckage fragmentation revealed that the airplane descended in a steep 45-degree, nose-down attitude before it impacted terrain, consistent with a loss of airplane control. A post impact examination of the engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that could have precluded normal operation.
The bottom line is a good pilot with lots of experience may believe they have things covered but be in more trouble than they know. Another sad day for so many occurred because of the impossible turn. Please think about this accident when you are flying.
Thank you Doug for starting this thread and giving us a place to discuss and hopefully learn from others. For those of us low time pilots, it is our only hope. [ed. You are most welcome! v/r,dr]
Last edited by DeltaRomeo : 09-18-2015 at 08:28 PM.
Reason: forgot to include date