MIA99LA194
MIA99LA194

On July 10, 1999, about 0115 central daylight time, a Cessna 177RG, N2619V, registered to Dyna-Lift Inc., collided with a tree during an aborted landing at the Walker County Airport, Jasper, Alabama. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time, and a VFR flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. The airplane was substantially damaged. The private-rated pilot reported minor injuries. The flight originated at Huntsville, Alabama, at 0001.

About 22 miles out of Jasper the pilot said the airplane's electrical system became inoperative, resulting in a total loss of electrical power. The pilot was unable to activate the runway lights at the Jasper Airport, because the airplane's radios were inoperative. The pilot stated that he found the airport, "...circled low and could see the FBO facilities, the blue lights of the taxi way turns, and the red lights marking the approach to the runway at each end, but could not see the runway." He turned the radio back on to attempt to activate the runway lights, "but it was dead." He considered going to Birmingham, but was afraid he would not be able to talk with anybody. He stated, "...I decided to [land]...without any lights by lining up parallel with the straight portion of the taxi way and directly over the red approach lights. I chose runway 9 because that put the taxi way lights on my left. I pumped down the landing gear by hand...adjusted the flap lever 10 degrees on downwind, 10 degrees on base and 10 degrees on final without thinking that it was to no avail, because the flaps are electric. I was watching my airspeed with the flashlight...just before touching down could see the white strips on the runway to my left. The touchdown was pretty smooth, but my right landing gear was off the runway on the grass. I reapplied power to make a second attempt...on downwind, I decided to use the flashlight to try to see the white strips on the runway...in my concentration on seeing the runway, I wasn't watching the airspeed very well, [still] thinking my flaps would have me about the right speed at my approach angle. When I saw the white strips, I was right on them and started to flair, but bounced, and for a time that seemed forever, the plane floated. When I touched down again, the plane felt as if it was skidding sideways, and I decided to go around again...when I reached 80 mph, I raised the flaps all the way, still thinking I was controlling the flaps...I guess I must have become somewhat disoriented, as I banked left much too soon thinking I remembered trees at the end of the runway. At that moment I saw the outlines of tree tops in front of me. I tried to pick the lowest point, but struck one. The plane began to tumble, and then I was on the ground hanging upside down from the seat belt."

According to the FAA inspector's statement, a test run was performed on the engine and no discrepancies were found. The alternator and voltage regulator were tested under the supervision of the FAA at the facilities of Electrodelta Inc., Fort Deposit, Alabama. The inspector stated, "...the bench check was cursory and test results were not documented, both units bench checked with no defects...continuity of the two place rocker type on/off battery and alternator switch [revealed]...the battery side...functioned normally...the alternator side...stayed in the contact closed position which indicated that the switch was always in the power on mode. This is an isolated malfunction and would not cause a complete loss of electrical power to the aircraft."

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