LAX02LA014
LAX02LA014

On October 23, 2001, at 1449 mountain standard time, a North American SNJ-5, N3246G, struck a runway distance marker sign on the landing rollout from runway 22L at the Falcon Field Airport (FFZ), Mesa, Arizona. The airplane was owned by the Confederate Air Force and rented by the pilot under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The airplane sustained substantial damage when the wing struck the marker sign. The airline transport pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local area personal flight that departed Falcon Field about 1400.

According to the owner/operator of the airplane, the pilot landed on the runway centerline with a right crosswind. On the landing the airplane started to depart to the right of the runway. The pilot attempted to keep the airplane from ground looping; however, it departed the runway and struck a sign. The pilot stated that after the airplane came back onto the runway he knew that he had hit something, and thought it was the runway distance marker sign. He taxied back to the operator's hangar.

In the pilot's written statement to the Safety Board he reported that during the preflight he added 1 1/2 quarts to the existing 8 gallons, and had the fuel tanks topped off, bringing the total fuel to 110 gallons. He filed an interorganizational flight plan for a local area flight 1 hour in duration. He stated that this was a proficiency flight. He taxied to the run-up area, conducted the before takeoff checklist, and was cleared to takeoff with a departure from the downwind eastbound. He conducted maneuvers and then returned to Falcon Field.

The pilot stated about 10 miles out for landing he contacted the local controller and requested a clearance to land with information x-ray. The local controller cleared him for a straight-in approach for runway 22L with instructions to report on 3-mile final. He contacted the local controller on a 3-mile final and was cleared to land. The local controller informed him that that the reported winds were from 290 degrees at 8 knots. The pilot reported that he conducted the before landing checklist and kept his approach speed at 85 knots. He indicated that in a normal approach he would have been at 80 knots, but because of the existing crosswind he opted to carry "a little extra speed should difficulty be encountered."

The pilot stated that he had planned for a full stall landing, and that the final portion of his approach was normal. He added right aileron to counteract the crosswind and maintain directional control, as well as runway alignment. After touchdown, he applied full right aileron and the control stick was held in its full aft position. On the landing rollout he had to increase the left rudder input. He stated that he "sensed a side load on the airplane," and that it started to move to the right of the runway. He applied full left rudder; however, the turn to the right increased. He maneuvered to avoid a black box on the right edge of the runway by inputting left brake. He felt that a ground loop was imminent if he continued applying brake pressure, so he released the pressure and departed the runway in "a stable condition." The pilot stated that he applied power and taxied back onto the runway.

The local controller inquired if he needed assistance, and he replied in the negative. He asked if he could taxi back along runway 22L and make sure that he had not struck any runway signs. The local controller informed him during his taxi that he had struck a runway distance marker. He then asked for a 180-degree turn to the ramp to return to the Confederate Air Force ramp.

According to the pilot, he spoke with the tower chief at FFZ. At 1459, a special weather observation report was issued; winds were reported from 290 degrees at 15 knots. The pilot further stated that the crosswind limit for the airplane was 15 knots.

A Federal Aviation Administration inspector examined the airplane. He found nothing mechanically wrong with the brake or rudder system.



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