Monday, February 26, 2018

Aero Commander Callair A-9, N8401V: Accident occurred February 24, 2018 in Bunn, Franklin County, North Carolina

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Greensboro, North Carolina

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Bunn, NC
Accident Number: ERA18LA087
Date & Time: 02/24/2018, 1045 EST
Registration: N8401V
Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Glider Tow 

On February 24, 2018, about 1045 eastern standard time, an Aero Commander Callair A-9, N8401V, collided with terrain near Bunn, North Carolina. The commercial pilot sustained minor injuries and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was being operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a glider tow flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the local flight that originated about 1 minute earlier from Crooked Creek Airport (7NC5).

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the A-9 was towing aloft a Schweizer SGS-2-33A glider (N1186S) from runway 22, flown by a student pilot with a flight instructor on board. The pilot of the A-9 reported the planned release was at 3,000 feet mean sea level. The flight instructor of the glider stated that the student pilot had made two flights earlier that day and demonstrated "good progress" in controlling during the tow, but occasional corrections were necessary. During the accident tow, when the flight was about 300 feet above ground level (agl), with moderate turbulence, a wind gust caused the glider to move down and to the right in relation to the A-9 resulting in slack in the tow line, which the student applied the correct control inputs to correct. The flight instructor felt the appropriate jerk when the towline slack dissipated, but the glider continued up and to the left of the A-9 at an alarming rate. While at 400 feet agl, the flight encountered turbulence causing the A-9 to be low and to their right. The flight instructor took the controls and applied large forward and right roll flight control inputs and full spoilers in an attempt to fly into position, but the "situation was not improving." He pulled the tow release hard twice, which seemed as if it were jammed. He then pulled the tow release a third time as hard as he could, which was successful. He then maneuvered the glider and landed uneventfully on runway 04.

The pilot of the A-9 reported that before the tow, the flight instructor placed his hands in the air signifying the student would be flying. During the tow he noticed that the moment the glider became airborne, "it was a very turbulent tow" with the glider moving erratically back and forth. The flight continued and when he looked into the mirror, the glider was out of position, and he noted slack in the towline. The nose of the A-9 was suddenly jerked about 35° to the left, followed by its tail raising. About that time, the pilot of the A-9 attempted to release the glider, but because of the position of the tow release handle in the cockpit, he had difficulty reaching it. He eventually was able to reach the handle, but the glider released a split second before he could initiate the release. When the glider was released, the airplane was about 75 feet agl, or about 25 to 45 feet above the tree tops. The left wing then impacted trees, and the airplane then impacted the ground nearly fully inverted. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: AERO COMMANDER
Registration: N8401V
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:  No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: LHZ, 368 ft msl
Observation Time: 1035 EST
Distance from Accident Site: 7 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C / 16°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction:  3 knots, 220°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 1500 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.24 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Bunn, NC (7NC5)
Destination:  Bunn, NC (7NC5) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude:  35.926667, -78.248056 (est)

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