On January 28, 1998, approximately 1315 mountain standard time, an Aviat A-1, N503MZ, owned and operated by the pilot, was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain while landing at Buena Vista, Colorado. The airline transport-rated pilot and his certificated private pilot/passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed for the personal flight being conducted under Title 14 CFR Part 91. The flight originated at Buena Vista approximately 1310.

The following is based on this investigator's telephone interview with the pilot and the written accident report he submitted. The pilot had taken delivery of the airplane from the manufacturer three days before the accident. He said that although he had considerable flight experience, his exposure to the Aviat A-1 was limited. The purpose of the flight was to practice takeoffs and landings and to become more familiar with the airplane. The pilot-rated passenger made the takeoff, then the pilot-in-command took control to make the landing. The pilot said he was landing on runway 15. The wind was from 230 degrees at 10 knots, resulting in an almost direct right crosswind. The pilot said he made "a bad touch down" and added power to make a go around. When the airplane became airborne, the wind shifted to a quartering tailwind and it settled back onto the ground and departed the left side of the runway. It went down a hill and collided with a tree.

The pilot said the aft portion of the fuselage was buckled, the wing struts, elevator and rudder were damaged, and the landing gear was folded under the fuselage.

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