On March 23, 1997, at 1341 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-24-250 Commanche, N6561P, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing after a go-around at the Wood County Airport, Bowling Green, Ohio. The commercial pilot and one passenger were not injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and a composite VFR/IFR flight plan was filed. The personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91 originated in Albany, New York, approximately 1000, destined for Wood County Airport (1G0). Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to the pilot, "I informed [Cleveland] Center that the winds were stronger than forecast and I was concerned about fuel. I was told that I could get into Toledo Express (TOL) and was vectored accordingly and told to descend to 4,000. Upon leveling at 4,000 feet, I began to encounter light rime icing on the windshield and leading edges of my wings." The pilot requested and received a lower altitude assignment in search of warmer air temperatures and to conserve fuel. She then changed frequencies to Toledo Approach Control.
Review of the transcription of the voice recordings between the Toledo Approach controller and N6561P revealed that upon initial contact, the pilot stated, "...at this point we're running a little low on fuel. If we can get into Wood (1G0) that would be fine. Otherwise, we had filed secondarily for...Toledo Express." The pilot made no other comment about fuel state nor did she declare an emergency.
The airplane was vectored around weather and discussion of landing options continued between N6561P and the approach controller. The pilot ultimately chose to land at Wood County Airport. The airplane was vectored for the VOR Runway 18 approach at 1G0. Approximately 1334, the pilot reported she had "ground contact" but was in and out of the clouds. At 1334:11, the controller asked, "...still want to do the VOR or would you like to [go] back toward the airport...see if you get the airport in sight." The pilot responded, "You can vector me back. We'll do that." At 1335:10, the pilot advised she had the airport in sight and was given a frequency change to the 1G0 advisory frequency.
The pilot explained that throughout the descent the airplane was "...encountering freezing rain and large, wet, freezing 'slush flakes'. The runway appeared to be icy and I was concerned that I may not be able to maintain directional control nor be able to stop."
The pilot said she feared encountering the fence and the highway at the departure end of runway 18 and decided to go around and attempt a landing on Runway 09-27. She reported that with gear and flaps retracted and full power applied, the airplane began to descend. The pilot further stated:
"With full power, we were barely maintaining level flight, and the controls were very 'mushy'. I looked out my window and saw several inches of milky, rough-surfaced ice on the leading edge and underside of the wing."
The pilot stated she maneuvered to avoid a parking lot full of vehicles and a university field house. She then reduced power and performed a precautionary landing to a parade field with the landing gear retracted. According to a wreckage diagram prepared by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the airplane collided with terrain approximately 1,100 feet beyond the departure end of Runway 18; 400 feet left of centerline.
According to the Piper Owner's Handbook, the landing ground roll for the PA-24 on a dry runway was approximately 1,000 feet. Runway 18 at 1G0 was 2,627 feet long.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Advisory Circular 91-51-A states: "The most hazardous aspect of structural icing is its aerodynamic effects. Ice can alter the shape of an airfoil ... change the angle of attack at which an aircraft stalls, and cause the aircraft to stall at a significantly higher airspeed. Also, if the extra weight caused by ice accumulation is too great, the aircraft may not be able to become airborne and, if in flight, the aircraft may not be able to maintain altitude."
The pilot reported there were no mechanical deficiencies with the airplane. An examination of the airplane by an FAA Airworthiness Inspector revealed approximately 4 gallons of fuel in the right tank and no fuel in the left tank.