On February 17, 2012, at 1732 eastern standard time, a Mooney M20TN, N118RZ, collided with a pole when the pilot lost aircraft control while landing at Fayetteville Regional Airport (FAY), Fayetteville, North Carolina. The airplane was registered to and operated by Tenn. Reality LLC as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The certificated private pilot sustained serious injuries and one passenger sustained minor injuries. The flight originated from Raleigh Durham International Airport, Raleigh, North Carolina at 1707. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot stated that upon arrival at FAY, he was instructed by FAY Tower personnel to enter a left downwind leg of the traffic pattern for landing to runway 4. These instructions were subsequently changed to a right downwind leg. A Gulfstream jet was cleared to land in front of him. He was then cleared to land and the airplane touched down on the main landing gear. The airplane subsequently encountered wake turbulence from the jet. The nose of the airplane pitched up high and the airplane lifted off the runway. He applied power and the airplane went to the left. He immediately applied right rudder and right aileron, which put the airplane in a right bank. The airplane collided with a pole on the pilot's left side of the fuselage and the impact pushed the fuselage inward. The airplane spun around and came to a stop. The pilot stated he did not experience any mechanical problems with the airplane before the accident.
A witness, who was located on the ramp, stated he observed the Mooney about 8 feet above runway 4 when the airplane stalled. "The main landing gear and tail section hit the runway." He heard the engine go to what he describe as "full power" and he observed the nose of the airplane pitch up to about a 30-degree attitude at a slow airspeed. The airplane reached about 15 feet off the runway and stalled again. The airplane then collided with the runway on the main landing gear and tail section. The pilot applied full power again and reached about 15 feet, in a 35 to 40-degree left bank when the airplane stalled a third time. The left wing and left main landing gear scraped the runway. The pilot subsequently rolled the airplane to the right to avoid hitting a Gulfstream airplane on the ramp and scrapped the right wing. The right main landing gear touched down on the tarmac and the nose of the airplane collided with a light pole. The engine assembly and nose landing gear separated from the airframe. The airplane spun to the left, completing two 360-degree turns before it came to a stop in a nose down attitude resting on the main landing gear.
Another witness informed the NTSB that he observed the Mooney landing on runway 4. He initially saw top of the airplane in a torque roll to the left at full power. The airplane rolled back to the right and disappeared from view, followed by an impact sound. He went to the crash site and observed the airplane in an upright but nose down attitude. The engine assembly had collided with a light pole and had separated from the light pole. The engine was on fire and he put the fire out.
A third witness was standing next to his company Gulfstream that had just landed. It had been on the ground for about 4 minutes. He was under the right wing hooking up the single point refueling receptacle when he observed the Mooney land on runway 4. The next time he saw the Mooney the right wing tip was dragging the ground and the engine was at full power. The nose section of the Mooney collided with a light pole adjacent to the Gulfstream. The engine assembly separated from the airplane and it spun around to the right before coming to a complete stop.
Review of radio communications between N118RZ and Fayetteville Air Traffic Control revealed that at 17:27:09, a Gulfstream airplane was between twelve to one o’clock at 5 miles on final approach. N118RZ replied at 17:27:19, with a 5.72 mile separation on radar, "I see the gulfstream ah gulfstream on the final." At 17:27:24, the controller informed N118RZ while at 2,500 feet, "caution wake turbulence" and instructed to contact the tower at 17:27:24. N118RZ was cleared to land on runway 4 at 17:27:54. The pilot acknowledged the transmission. The local controller informed N118RZ, "Mooney eight Romeo Zulu caution wake turbulence from the gulfstream" at 1729:09. The response from N118RZ was unintelligible.
The Airman’s Information Manual states in Chapter 4 Air Traffic Control, paragraph 4-4-14 Visual Separation, (b), "A pilot’s acceptance of instructions to follow another aircraft or to provide visual separation from it is an acknowledgment that the pilot will maneuver the aircraft as necessary to avoid the other aircraft or to maintain in-trail separation. In operations conducted behind heavy jet aircraft, it is also an acknowledgment that the pilot accepts the responsibility for wake turbulence separation." The Mooney M20 is considered a small airplane and the Gulfstream is considered a large airplane in accordance with paragraph 7-3-9 Air Traffic Wake Turbulence Separations. The required separation between the two airplanes is 4 miles. The pilot who is landing behind a larger aircraft on the same runway should stay above the larger aircraft’s final approach flight path and note its touchdown point and land beyond it in accordance with paragraph 7-3-5 Vortex Avoidance Procedures. The controller will provide to VFR aircraft that they are in contact with, when in their opinion may be adversely affected by wake turbulence from a larger aircraft, the position, altitude, and direction of flight of larger aircraft followed by the phrase "Caution Wake Turbulence."
Review of the aircraft logbooks revealed the last annual inspection was conducted on December 24, 2011. The airplane has flown 33 hours since the last annual inspection. The engine and airframe had 390 total hours at the time of the accident.
Post accident examination of the crash site by an FAA inspector revealed the left wing left a ground scar on the tarmac. The airplane departed the left side of the runway and traveled about 200 yards before the nose section of the airplane collided with the base of a light pole. Propeller strike marks were present on the base of the concrete block holding the light pole. The nose section with the nose landing gear and propeller assembly separated from the airframe. The airplane spun around to the left and came to rest on a heading of 120 degrees magnetic. The engine assembly had a post crash fire from a ruptured fuel line and was extinguished by an individual who ran to the site to assist.