IAD98LA038
IAD98LA038

On March 15, 1998, about 1518 eastern standard time, a Champion 7ECA, N7507F, was substantially damaged as it collided with terrain after an aborted landing on a private airstrip near Castlewood, Virginia. The certificated private pilot/co-owner died April 15, 1998, from his injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91, which originated from the Virginia Highlands Airport, Abingdon, Virginia.

The owner of the private grass airstrip, located at 1,700 feet above mean sea level, described the runway as, " 2,400 feet long, oriented east/west, with a 3 foot high electric cattle fence at either end." Friends of the pilot and the co-owner of the airplane reported that the pilot flew there frequently and was familiar with the private airstrip.

Witnesses recounted a strong glare from the sun at the time the airplane was landing. They stated that the airplane touched down past midfield, bounced several times, and was approaching the end of the strip when they heard the sound of the engine accelerating. The witnesses reported that "the airplane was only a few feet above the ground in a nose high attitude as it crossed over the electric cattle fence." The airplane traversed a 40 foot deep ravine, but impacted the top of an embankment which was level with the grass runway. The airplane was found near the bottom of the embankment in an upright position.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Inspector examined the wreckage. The examination revealed no mechanical malfunction with the airframe or engine. The Inspector reported that the carburetor heat was found in the "on" position. The Inspector scoured the grass runway and found marks matching the main landing gear about 50 feet prior to the electric cattle fence. The Inspector stated that the top strand of wire on the electric cattle fence, which was approximately 30 inches above the ground, was broken. The Inspector found paint scraped off the leading edges of the spring steel landing gear, which he reported could not be associated with anything on the embankment.

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