FTW98LA059
FTW98LA059

On November 27, 1997, at 1730 central standard time, a Mooney M20F airplane, N2954L, was substantially damaged while landing near Stuttgart, Arkansas. The instrument rated commercial pilot and his 3 passengers were not injured. The airplane was owned by Tiger Investment Co., of Wilmington, Delaware, and was being operated by the pilot under Title 14 CFR Part 91. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal cross country flight which originated at the De Witt Municipal Airport at 1700, with Little Rock, Arkansas, as its intended destination. An IFR flight plan was filed for the 53 nautical mile flight.

The pilot reported that the cabin door popped open while in cruise flight approximately 10 minutes after takeoff. The pilot added that "the airplane began to buffet and vibrate." He further stated that "the wind noise in the cabin made communications difficult" and the pilot's 12 year old son, who was seated in the right front seat, "became excited and scared."

The pilot asked Little Rock Approach Control for a vector to the Stuttgart Municipal Airport to land and secure the cabin door. Upon arriving over the airport, the pilot circled the airport as he attempted to activate the pilot controlled runway lights by clicking on frequency 122.9; however, the pilot was unable to activate any of the runway lights. The UNICOM frequency (122.8) is listed as the published frequency to activate the runway lights.

Physical examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane touched down on a runway (04-22) that had been abandoned for over 10 years with sections of the hard surface reported as being "partly torn off." The imprint of the airplane's main landing gear was found on a portion of the abandoned runway west of runway 18-36. The airplane came to a stop after impacting a drainage ditch east of the taxiway connecting the airport's main ramp with runways 9 and 18.

Official sunset was reported as 1700. The airport's windsock at the airport remains lit 24 hours a day. The recorded winds at the time of the accident were reported from 150 degrees at 10 knots. The airplane was attempting to land on abandoned runway 04 (040 degrees).

On site examination of the 1967 model airplane by the FAA inspector revealed that the nose and right main landing gear had collapsed and the right flap was destroyed. The right wing and the underside of the fuselage sustained structural damage.

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