SEA98LA113
SEA98LA113

On June 28, 1998, approximately 1100 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA-18, N44536, impacted the terrain shortly after takeoff from Big Creek Airstrip, Big Creek, Idaho. The private pilot, who was the sole occupant, received serious injuries, and the aircraft, which was owned and operated by the pilot, sustained substantial damage. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal pleasure flight, which departed the airstrip en route to Caldwell, Idaho, less than a minute before the accident, was being operated in visual meteorological conditions. No flight plan had been filed, and the ELT, which was activated by the impact, was turned off at the scene.

According to the pilot, while his aircraft was tied down off to the side of the grass airstrip, the pilot of a Cessna 195 pulled in to park next to him. As the 195 pilot swung his aircraft into the adjacent parking spot, the wing of the 195 overlapped the wing of the PA-18. As the 195 wing passed over the PA-18 wing, the tie-down loop on the bottom of the 195 wing tore the top wing skin of the PA-18 and inflicted minor damage on one of the ribs. Prior to attempting his takeoff to return to Caldwell, the pilot of the PA-18 "repaired" the damaged rib and torn wing skin with duct tape. According to the pilot, after the aircraft lifted off, it felt like something was wrong with the way the aircraft was flying. Because he thought the aircraft's flight characteristics might be related to the "repaired" wing, he elected to immediately land in the opposite direction from which he departed. In order to execute this maneuver, the pilot turned right about 70 to 80 degrees from the runway heading when he was about one-half way down the runway. He then rolled into a steeply banked turn to the left. According to witnesses, this turn appeared to be bringing the aircraft back over the runway in a direction opposite from departure. But as the aircraft neared the runway edge, the turn appeared to "tighten up," and the aircraft suddenly sank into the terrain. The pilot later said that in trying to get the aircraft around to the runway, he allowed the airspeed to get too slow, and the angle of bank too get too steep, resulting in a low-altitude stall/mush into the terrain. According to witnesses, the aircraft never got higher than 100 feet above the ground (AGL) during this entire maneuver. Density altitude was later calculated to be approximately 7,800 feet.

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