Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub, N4420Z: Accident occurred June 18, 2017 in Red Bluff, Tehama County, California

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Sacramento, California

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Red Bluff, CA
Accident Number: GAA17CA352
Date & Time: 06/18/2017, 0830 PDT
Registration: N4420Z
Aircraft: PIPER PA 18
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control on ground
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal


The pilot of the tailwheel-equipped airplane reported that, during the landing roll on a gravel bar in gusting wind, the "tail seemed to pickup from the wind". Subsequently the airplane nosed over.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the empennage.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The automated weather observation station located about 6 nautical miles west from the accident site reported that, about 36 minutes before the accident, the wind was from 340° at 14 knots, gusting 22 knots. The same weather observation station reported that, about 24 minutes after the accident, the wind was from 360° at 19 knots, gusting 26 knots. The airplane was landing to the north. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain pitch control during the landing roll in gusting wind conditions, which resulted in a nose-over.


Pitch control - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Gusts - Effect on operation

Factual Information

History of Flight

Other weather encounter
Loss of control on ground (Defining event)
Nose over/nose down

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 46, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Unknown
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 07/31/2015
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 06/14/2016
Flight Time: (Estimated) 1546 hours (Total, all aircraft), 490 hours (Total, this make and model), 1389.7 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 24.5 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 7.5 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: PIPER
Registration: N4420Z
Model/Series: PA 18 150
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1968
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 18-8756
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/15/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1700 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 2058 Hours
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-320-A2B
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 160 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Fractional Ownership

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KRBL, 353 ft msl
Observation Time: 1454 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 6 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 294°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C / 12°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 14 knots/ 22 knots, 350°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.85 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: RED BLUFF, CA (RBL)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: VFR
Destination: Red Bluff, CA
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0600 PDT
Type of Airspace:  Class E

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude:  40.111667, -122.136111 (est)

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