LAX06CA279
LAX06CA279

On August 21, 2006, about 1745 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna T210G, N6821R, landed hard on runway 18 at Lake Tahoe Airport (TVL), South Lake Tahoe, California. The pilot/owner operated the airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The private pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. The cross-country personal flight departed the Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT), Fresno, California, about 1635, with a planned destination of South Lake Tahoe. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot stated in a written report that he was in a controlled descent over TVL when he tuned in the ASOS (Automated Surface Observing System). He took three ASOS readings, about 2 minutes apart. All three ASOS readings were relatively similar with no indications of wind shear or wind gusts. The pilot reported the wind portion of the ASOS readings as, winds 210 degrees at 9 knots; winds 200 degrees at 8 knots; winds 190 degrees at 9 knots.

After communicating his intentions on CTAF (common traffic advisory frequency), the pilot entered an extended straight-in approach for runway 18. He checked the PAPI (Precision Approach Path Indicator), which indicated that he was on the correct glide slope. He noted moderate turbulence over the water that calmed down slightly after the airplane crossed the shoreline.

The pilot said that while in ground effect over the runway, with the power reduced and the airplane very close to the ground, the airplane "abruptly gained altitude and was pushed off from a centerline alignment." Due to his position over the runway, the pilot was looking outside the airplane and did not see the airspeed gauge at the moment the airplane gained altitude. He reported that it felt like a high-speed wind gust occurred down and across the runway, which caused the airplane to lift up out of ground effect. The pilot reported that the combination of airspeed loss caused by the wind gust and reduced power setting for landing reduced the airplane's airspeed and resulted in a stall. He attempted to maintain aircraft control as best he could' however, the airplane "dropped quite rapidly," and the airplane landed hard and at an angle. The pilot taxied the airplane to the parking area.

The pilot stated that the airplane and engine had no mechanical failures or malfunctions during the flight or subsequent landing.

In the RECOMMENDATION (How could this accident have been prevented?) section of the Pilot/Operator's report (NTSB Form 6120.1/2), the pilot reported that TVL has the potential for dangerous wind conditions. It is his normal practice to take several ASOS readings looking for indications of wind gusts or possible wind shear. If the winds appear stable and safe, he makes a normal approach. If the conditions include minor wind gusts, but still safe enough to land, he does not make a normal approach as the "wind conditions tend to be worse there than further down the runway." Since he had consistent readings from ASOS that indicated steady winds, he felt a normal approach could be made. He further reported that the general conditions along the approach path are such that in a short distance the airplane traverses across cold lake water, then buildings, followed by wet or dry grassy areas, and then the runway, could possibly lead to rapid changes to the wind conditions, which might not be noted by ASOS. He also indicated that TVL is a non-towered airport that could benefit from the installation of a tower, with controllers who could reliably pass on information from earlier landings and weather reports about the possible existence of wind gusts and wind shear.

A subsequent inspection of the airplane by the pilot's insurance adjuster revealed structural damage to the firewall.

The closest official weather observation station was South Lake Tahoe (TVL), which was located at the accident site. The elevation of the weather observation station was 6,313 feet mean sea level (msl). An aviation routine weather report (METAR) issued at 1753 reported winds from 220 degrees at 6 knots with no wind gusts; visibility 10 statute miles and clear skies; temperature 22 degrees Celsius; dew point 1 degree Celsius; altimeter 30.21 inHg.

Lake Tahoe Airport is not equipped with either Low Level Windshear Alert System (LLWAS) or Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) equipment. At the time of the accident, ASOS did not record any wind gusts; however, previous measurements on the day of the accident showed wind gusts up to 28 knots at the airport.

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