LAX99LA142
LAX99LA142

On April 9, 1999, at 1046 hours mountain standard time, an experimental Witzel Glassair II FT, N71TL, dragged the left wing during a landing attempt on runway 23 and subsequently cartwheeled off the runway at the Casa Grande, Arizona, airport. The aircraft, owned and operated by the pilot, sustained substantial damage. The private pilot and his passenger sustained minor injuries. A flight plan was not filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed with the winds reported to be 280 degrees at 16 knots, gusting to 22 knots. The personal flight, conducted under 14 CFR Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, originated at Carlsbad, California, at 0845 Pacific standard time, with an ultimate destination of Midland, Texas.

The pilot stated that he listened to the automated weather and learned that the winds were from 280 degrees at 10 knots, gusting to 25 knots. He said that he felt that Casa Grande Municipal Airport appeared to have the runways that were most favorable to the wind conditions. He stated he thought his touchdown was normal, but he had made his touchdown a bit faster than usual to account for the potential for wind gusts. He said the gust he encountered was "greater than I could deal with." The airplane was lifted approximately 8 feet and he applied full power for a go-around. He said at that moment, the gust apparently stopped abruptly and he thought he might have been below stall speed. He stated when he was about 3-feet high, the left wing impacted the ground and the airplane spun around and the nose gear collapsed.

An eyewitness, a certified flight instructor who was just finishing up a training flight with a student, estimated that a 30-degree crosswind existed and stated that the winds were gusting to 25-28 knots during his landing moments before this accident on runway 23. The flight instructor said he saw the accident airplane coming in on final and that the approach looked fast, and said it appeared that the pilot was attempting to force the airplane onto the runway. As the airplane touched down, it bounced into the air and the pilot again attempted to touch down on the runway. The witness stated that a gust of wind caught the aircraft and the airplane bounced back into the air. He said that on the third bounce, a gust of wind caught the right wing and put the airplane on "knife edge," and the wind proceeded to push him over and the left wingtip hit the dirt and the airplane cartwheeled for about 100 feet before coming to a stop. The witness said the pilot never appeared to attempt to go-around during the sequence, and that it also appeared like the aircraft still had power applied to it. He concluded his statement by saying, "It didn't look like the pilot ever had it under control."

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