NTSB Identification: ERA12FA319
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 05, 2012 in Honesdale, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/29/2013
Aircraft: CESSNA 177B, registration: N34539
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 was operating on a temporary certificate in preparation for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) competency checkride that was required as a result of a previous accident. (The previous accident occurred at the same airport in the same make and model of airplane but on the opposite runway. During that accident, the pilot delayed a decision to abort a long landing, and the airplane impacted trees beyond the end of the runway.)

On the day of the accident, the pilot was observed attempting to land the airplane with a tailwind estimated by observers to be at least 10 knots. The airplane completed two traffic pattern circuits to low approaches that resulted in go-arounds. As the airplane approached the runway a third time, it appeared to be "unusually fast." It commenced a landing flare past the runway identification numbers, floated, touched down nosewheel first, then porpoised several times. Just past the windsock, which was about 1,200 feet from the runway’s departure end, engine power was applied, and the airplane's nose pitched up excessively high. The airplane then stalled at an estimated 200 to 300 feet above the runway and began a spin to the left, completing about 180 degrees of rotation before impacting the ground with power on.

Postflight examination of the airplane revealed no mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. Postflight toxicology testing revealed that the pilot had ingested an over-the-counter sedating antihistamine in a quantity that exceeded the therapeutic dosage rate. The antihistamine, which is not FAA-approved for use during piloting, carries a warning that it may impair mental and motor skills.

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

The pilot pitching the airplane to an excessive nose-up attitude during an aborted landing, which resulted in increased induced drag, diminished airspeed, and an aerodynamic stall/spin. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s use of a sedating antihistamine, which resulted in impaired mental and motor skills.

Full narrative available

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