FTW04LA086
FTW04LA086

On February 28, 2004, approximately 0730 central standard time, a Lake LA4-270T single-engine amphibian airplane, N193TM, registered to Talen's Marine and Fuel Inc., of Lake Arthur, Louisiana, and operated by a private individual, sustained substantial damage while landing on Grand Lake near Crowley, Louisiana. The private pilot, sole occupant of the airplane, was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The local flight originated from Jennings Airport (3R7), near Jennings, Louisiana, at 0700.

According to the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB Form 6120.1/2), the 666-hour pilot reported that after a normal takeoff, he proceeded 25 nautical miles to the south; to a practice area for water landings. With an easterly wind, the pilot configured the aircraft for a normal approach into the wind for the first of many practice water landings. At approximately 400 feet MSL, he inadvertently selected the landing gear handle, while reaching for the flap handle. The landing gear and the flap handles are two position levers, with the flaps either being full "UP" or full "DOWN", as is the landing gear lever. The normal procedure for all landings is to land with full flaps. As he continued the approach and performed the "flow check", the pilot reported that the rising sun created a glare within the cockpit, which prevented verification of the position of the flaps and landing gear. Confirmation of the landing gear position with the external mirrors was also impaired by the sunlight. Upon contact with the water, the airplane "violently" flipped over onto its back. The pilot was able to evacuate the aircraft through a passenger door and await rescue eight hours later. He was able to access some of his survival equipment, however his cellular telephone and hand-held radio could not be located and the emergency locator transmitter (ELT) did not activate.

The pilot stated that for the previous three weeks he was unable to practice water landings, due to maintenance on the nose gear doors. During this time, he performed landings on hard surface runways.

Examination of the aircraft by a FAA inspector, who responded to the accident site, revealed structural damage to the vertical stabilizer and the inboard section of the left wing. The left wing spar was fractured, the left wing tip was bent at a 45-degree angle, and the aft wing attachment fitting was buckled.

As a result of this accident, the operator has recommended the installation of an audible gear position warning system. The pilot acknowledged the importance of a flight plan and other personal locator technology.

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