On December 8, 1998, about 1330 eastern standard time, a Beechcraft BE-36, N3237Q, was substantially damaged when it departed the right side of a wet runway at a private airstrip near Mathews, Virginia. The certificated private pilot, and the three passengers were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight that originated from Norfolk International Airport (ORF) Norfolk, Virginia. No flight plan was filed and the flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The pilot stated that he departed Norfolk, Virginia, approximately 1245, with three passengers for the purpose of taking aerial photographs of property he was developing. Once over the property, the pilot circled about 5 times at 2,000 to 2,500 feet above mean sea level (MSL), before proceeding to his planned destination which was 8 miles to the north.

According to the pilot, upon reaching his final destination he over flew the runway at 1,000 feet MSL, checked the winds, then entered a left base for landing to the east. After completing the base leg of the traffic pattern, the pilot positioned the airplane on a 2 mile final, configured the airplane with approach flaps, and slowed to 75 mph. The airplane touched down approximately 300 feet past the approach end of the 2,200 foot grass runway and started to rollout. Halfway down the runway, the pilot applied the brakes and the airplane started to slide. With approximately 600 feet remaining, the pilot felt that the airplane was not going to stop before the departure end of the runway. He also felt that a go-around was not an option because of 100 foot tall trees on the departure end of the runway. Instead, the pilot planned on making an abrupt 180 degree turn in an attempt to stop the airplane.

When the pilot maneuvered the airplane to the right side of the runway to attempt a left 180 degree turn, the right main landing gear encountered "tall" grass, causing the airplane to veer to the right and depart the runway.

Traveling approximately 15 mph, the airplane's right wing struck a 3 to 4 inch diameter tree, spun 180 degrees to the right, and came to a stop. The pilot secured the airplane's engine and electrical systems, and egressed the airplane after his passengers.

In addition, the pilot stated that it was not unusual for his airplane to slide when the brakes were applied and the accident runway was wet. The accident runway was 2,200 feet long, 35 feet wide, and had a grass surface. The runway also had an additional 15 feet of clear area on both sides.

The pilot stated that he had made over 200 landing on the accident runway, and had 1,100 to 1,200 hours of flight experience in the accident airplane make and model.

The pilot added that it was not safe to use full flaps for landing, and that they should only be used if the runway is "long," or if there are no obstacles that could interfere with a go-around attempt.

Examination of a Beechcraft A36 Pilot's Operator Handbook (POH) revealed that the before landing checklist stated, "Flaps-FULL DOWN." In addition, only landing performance data for landing with the flaps full down on a dry level runway was published.

According to the POH, a 3,200 pound airplane would require a landing distance of 1,500 feet. This figure was based on no wind, sea level, a 50 foot obstacle, and an air temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

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