On July 5, 2002, at 1628 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 150, N8894G, was substantially damaged during a forced landing shortly after take-off from an alfalfa field in Griswold, Connecticut. The non-certificated pilot was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot stated that he made an emergency landing in an alfalfa field on June 20, 2002, due to smoke in the cockpit. He then waited two weeks for the property owner to mow the field before he could take-off.
In a written statement, the pilot said the alfalfa field was approximately 2,000 feet long with a 25-foot high tree line at the departure end. He described the field as rolling and a little bumpy. The pilot taxied to the far end of the field and departed to the north/northwest. He said:
"While going over the rolling hill (nose off the ground), making a slight left turn, I had to be careful so the wings would not make ground contact. I then became airborne for about 2 seconds, then made ground contact again. At this point, I knew I should have aborted, but elected to continue."
The airplane continued down the field for the next 90 to 120 feet at 50-55 miles per hour with the nose wheel off the ground, until the airplane became airborne. The pilot stated that he cleared the trees by approximately 10 feet, but then lost lift due to a downdraft. The pilot reduced power, lowered the nose, and landed hard in another alfalfa field.
Two witnesses observed the airplane depart from the field, which was located behind their homes. According to one witness, she heard the airplane taxiing around in the backyard and called her aunt, who lives next door, to find out what the pilot was doing. Her aunt said that the pilot intended to take-off the following day and was just testing the field. However, the witness saw the airplane take-off, then heard the sound of a crash.
A second witness said she heard the pilot start the airplane's engine and taxi down toward her niece's home. The witness said that her niece called and said that the pilot was definitely going to take-off. According to the witness:
"I went out and sure enough he was in the air - not too high - close to trees near our garage and went higher and instantly took a nose dive."
A third witness said that the airplane departed with a 8-10 knot tailwind, and the tail of the airplane brushed the tree tops as it flew over them.
A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector performed an on-scene examination. According to the inspector, the firewall was buckled, and both wings were damaged. No mechanical deficiencies were noted with the airplane or engine.
The inspector also described the field as rolling and bumpy, and estimated the length to be about 1,700-1,800 feet long.
The FAA had suspended the pilot's certificates and ratings in 1999. Additionally, the pilot's most recent FAA medical certificate was issued on May 21, 1998, and he did not have a current biennial flight review.
The pilot reported a total of 5,000 flight hours, of which, 2,000 hours were in make and model. He also reported that there were no mechanical deficiencies with the airplane.
Weather at Groton/New London (GON) Airport, Groton/New London, Connecticut, 16 NM southwest, at 1606, included wind from 320 degrees at 12 knots gusting to 21 knots, clear skies, temperature 79 degrees F, and dewpoint 55 degrees F.
Interpolation of the Cessna 150 Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) Take-off Performance Chart, the airplane required 2,009 feet of takeoff distance to clear a 50 foot obstacle from a dry grass runway with an 8-knot tailwind.
Additionally, Spruce Airport, a private airport with a 1,735 foot long grass runway, was located directly across the street from the alfalfa field. According to the FAA inspector, the airport owner had offered to help the pilot move the airplane to the airport for a small fee. The pilot refused the offer.