WPR09LA301
WPR09LA301

On June 19, 2009, about 1915 Pacific daylight time, an experimental weight-shift-control aircraft (trike) Paul Antares, N729YF, lost control during landing and impacted the runway in a nose down attitude at the Petaluma Municipal Airport (O69), Petaluma, California. The owner/pilot operated the trike under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. The pilot received serious injuries, and the trike sustained substantial damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot reported that on the descent to enter the pattern, at 1,500 feet above ground level (agl), she encountered turbulence that worsened as she entered the pattern. On final approach the trike had extra airspeed and power because of the weather conditions, and she planned on landing about halfway down the runway to avoid "rotor" from the hangars on the upwind side of the first half of the runway. The pilot stated that she decided to descend more rapidly once past the runway numbers in the hope the air would be smoother, but it was not. She felt that she had retained aircraft control during final approach; however, at 50 feet, a gust of wind pushed the trike off runway centerline. As she corrected back to the runway, the trike became uncontrollable and impacted the ground in a nose-down attitude. The pilot reported that there were no mechanical problems with the trike.

The pilot also stated that had she stayed at the higher altitude and attempted the landing, like her fellow pilots, she would not have experienced the "unmanageable downdraft," that she encountered.

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