NTSB Identification: ERA09CA245
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, April 11, 2009 in Tampa, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/28/2009
Aircraft: PIPER PA-18-150, registration: N1982P
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Prior to departing on the cross-country flight, the pilot received a jump-start for his amphibious airplane due to a dead battery. The pilot then immediately taxied to the runway and departed. Once airborne, he moved the landing gear handle to the "Up" position, but did not confirm that the gear had successfully retracted. He climbed to 300 feet above mean sea level (msl) before turning and descending over the water to 120 feet msl, with the intention of making a low pass in front of his waterfront home. The airplane encountered "a gust of wind," and lost approximately 40 feet of altitude. The pilot decided to abort the low pass, and advanced the throttle to full power. He was not satisfied with the response of the engine and decided to make an emergency landing on the water. Upon touchdown, the airplane flipped over, and sustained substantial damage. The pilot escaped underwater and received minor injuries. Examination of the wreckage revealed that the landing gear was in the extended position, and the gear handle was in the "Up" position. All electrical wiring was found to be intact, and no other mechanical issues were found. A certificated aircraft mechanic, familiar with the accident airplane, stated that when the landing gear cycle was initiated, the motor momentarily drew a very high current. He stated that if the battery was dead, or contained a low charge, the generator would "probably not" be able to handle the high current demand, and would not permit the landing gear to cycle. The pilot did not notice any other mechanical or electrical problems with the airplane during the flight.

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

The pilot's failure to confirm that the landing gear was retracted prior to the attempted water landing.

Full narrative available

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