On April 10, 2004, approximately 1405 mountain daylight time, a Champion 7ECA airplane, N5235X, sustained substantial damage after impacting a tree following a go-around at the Fairgrounds Airpark (F02), Hardin, Montana. The airplane was registered to a private individual. The commercial pilot, sole occupant of the aircraft, was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal cross-country flight, and a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Anaconda, Montana, at 1135.

In a telephone interview with the NTSB investigator-in-charge, and according to the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB Form 6120.1/2), the pilot reported that upon arriving at F02 he cancelled his flight plan and descended to 2,000 feet above ground level "to check the windsock." The pilot stated that he determined the wind to be approximately 30 degrees from the right at 10 to 12 knots and favoring runway 22. The pilot further stated, "I entered left traffic for runway 22, and upon turning final it became clear the wind had increased and was now nearly 90 degrees from the right. I continued the approach to get a feel for the wind and felt that the better option would be to land on the grassy strip area adjacent to runway 22, which was about 1,000 feet long, had a fence bordering the approach end, and was directly into the wind." The pilot reported that he climbed back to altitude and set up for a normal approach to the grass strip. The pilot also reported, "Upon turning final I observed a barbed wire fence at the approach [end]. Because of this I probably came in slightly higher than I could have, and a little fast." The pilot stated that upon touchdown and after realizing he wouldn't be able to stop before the end of the runway, he applied full power. Once airborne the airplane clipped a cottonwood tree with its left wing, spun 180 degrees to the left and fell to the ground. The pilot reported no mechanical failures or malfunctions with the aircraft prior to the flight.

An FAA inspector, who traveled to the accident site, reported that the airplane's left wing was substantially damaged.

At 1356, the weather reporting facility at the Billings Logan International Airport, located 38 nautical miles west of the accident site, reported wind 310 degrees at 17 knots with gusts to 24 knots.

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