NTSB Identification: CHI98LA019.
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Accident occurred Saturday, October 18, 1997 in REESEVILLE, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/30/1998
Aircraft: Piper J3L-65, registration: N33252
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot said that the winds were from the southwest at 10 knots. He entered the traffic pattern on a left downwind for a northbound landing on his private airstrip. He reported that he landed approximately one-third of the way down the 900' grass strip. During the roll out, he depressed the brake pedals and found both to be ineffective in slowing the airplane. He said that because of trees off the departure end of the runway, a go-around attempt would have been inappropriate. He opted to continue the landing roll, swerving to the left before colliding with trees off the departure end of the runway. Postaccident inspection confirmed that there was no brake engagement at either wheel. Examination of the brake system revealed that the master cylinder reservoir was not full. After adding approximately 1\2 ounce of brake fluid to the cylinder, the brakes engaged. The pilot said that three flights before the accident, the brakes felt 'soft' following a landing. He said that he flew the accident airplane twice after the brakes were tested by a maintenance facility, prior to the accident flight. The pilot stated that he did not recall ever using or testing the brakes at any time during this time. He said that he usually only used the brakes after landing at Reeseville, due to the short landing area.

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

failure of the normal braking system, due to a low level of brake fluid. Factors relating to the accident were: inadequate inspection of the aircraft by other maintenance personnel, the pilot's failure to check the brakes after brake maintenance/inspection, the tailwind, and the location of trees.

Full narrative available

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