NTSB Identification: NYC08LA221
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, June 20, 2008 in Lake Placid, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/25/2009
Aircraft: PIPER PA-18-150, registration: N988PC
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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 and a wildlife-research passenger departed in the pilot's airplane on a brief aerial observation flight with the purpose of locating a bear tracking collar. The airplane was observed by multiple witnesses in multiple locations to be flying at "very low" altitudes. Most of these observations occurred when the airplane flew over several lakes in the local area. The airplane returned to the origination airport for landing about 1/2 hour after its departure. Instead of flying a normal airport traffic pattern, the pilot flew along the runway in the direction opposite of his intended landing direction, at an altitude of approximately 100 feet above the ground. He then initiated a rapid pull-up and small radius turn to complete the landing. The airplane impacted airport property in a near-vertical attitude, approximately 900 feet from the approach threshold. Both occupants were fatally injured. With one exception, no evidence of any preimpact airframe mechanical failure or malfunction was found. The flap cable was found disconnected from the flap handle, but it could not be determined when or how this occurred. If the flaps were inoperative, the condition would not have resulted in any airplane control problems during normal flight operations, and a normal landing could have been accomplished. No evidence of any preimpact mechanical failure or malfunction was found that would have prevented the engine from developing power. Toxicological testing revealed that the pilot was taking a prescription antidepressant medication, but the medication would not have likely resulted in impairment. Several individuals stated that the non-standard landing maneuver was not unusual for the pilot. Digital images recovered from the passenger's camera revealed that during the accident flight the airplane was operated at low altitude above the surfaces of several lakes, and that on at least one occasion the airplane's tires were in contact with the surface of a lake.

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

The pilot’s performance of a nonstandard abrupt maneuver at low altitude, which resulted in a loss of aircraft control.

Full narrative available

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