On July 8, 2000, approximately 1030 central daylight time, an Aero Commander 685 twin-engine airplane, N1203N, was substantially damaged during a hard landing at the Grider Field Airport near Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The airplane was owned and operated by a private individual. The commercial pilot and his sole passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 business flight. The cross-country flight departed Prescott, Arkansas, at 1000.

The pilot reported that prior to entering the downwind leg for runway 35, he completed the pre-landing checklist and confirmed the landing gear was down and locked. The pilot stated that he entered downwind behind another aircraft, therefore, he had to extend his downwind. Due to the extension of downwind, he did not extend the flaps abeam of his touchdown point. After turning final, the VASI was red over white so he "did not extend the flaps on final, not wanting to change the configuration since I was on glide path and my speed was 100 knots," which was the pilot operating handbook's recommended speed for final approach. "After touchdown, which was a bit hard, the nose gear collapsed."

The passenger reported to an FAA inspector that he felt the turn to final was too steep, and when they started down, they were dropping faster than he was used to.

According to the FAA inspector, who responded to the accident site, the airplane touched down on its tail, leaving a 5-foot gouge on the runway. The airplane then touched down on its nose landing gear, leaving a 1,000-foot mark on the runway. The airplane came to a stop upright on the runway. Examination of the airplane revealed that the nose landing gear actuator was shoved up through the bulkhead into the forward baggage compartment. The fuselage was wrinkled forward and aft of the wings, and the tail tie down ring was shoved up into the tail.

The pilot reported in the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB Form 6120.1/2) that he had accumulated a total flight time of 450 hours, of which 45 hours were in multiengine airplanes, and 6 hours were in the same make and model as the accident airplane.

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