NTSB Identification: SEA96FA137.
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Accident occurred Thursday, June 27, 1996 in PRAY, MT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/23/1997
Aircraft: Piper PA-28R-180, registration: N7529J
Injuries: 2 Fatal,1 Serious.

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 initiated a landing on a 6,000 by 30 foot paved airstrip. Both edges of the airstrip dropped off into drainage ditches immediately beyond the edges of the pavement. There was a crosswind from the right, which was variable and gusty. The density altitude was over 7,300 feet. Witnesses stated the aircraft touched down two to three times during the landing, and the pilot appeared to have difficulty maintaining a straight path on the pavement. A photo showed the aircraft's right main gear at the edge of the pavement as it approached the end of the landing area. The witnesses said that close to the end of the landing area, the aircraft became airborne again, climbed about 20 to 75 feet above ground level, and started a left turn. The aircraft's left wing then dropped, and the aircraft crashed. The airstrip had a 60 to 80 foot high ridge along its west edge for its entire length, and there was a 361 foot hill about 1/3 mile beyond the end of the airstrip with higher mountainous terrain beyond the hill. Flap system components were found in the up position at the accident site; the aircraft's flaps-up/gear-up stall speed was 71 MPH at 20 degrees bank and 79 MPH at 40 degrees bank. No preimpact mechanical failure or malfunction of the aircraft or engine was found. About 18 miles north at Livingston, MT, the 1249 mdt wind was from 220 degrees at 18 gusting 27 knots.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

the pilot's delay in initiating a go-around, and his failure to obtain and/or maintain sufficient airspeed to avoid higher terrain during the go-around, which resulted in a stall and collision with terrain. Factors relating to the accident were: the narrow landing area, variable/gusty crosswind conditions, the resultant lack of directional control during the landing, high density altitude, and mountainous/hilly terrain beyond the end of the airstrip.

Full narrative available

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