Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Piper PA-25-235 Pawnee B, N7247Z: Accident occurred April 22, 2018 at Saratoga County Airport (5B2), Saratoga Springs, New York

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Albany, New York

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms


Location: Saratoga Springs, NY
Accident Number: GAA18CA222
Date & Time: 04/22/2018, 1312 EDT
Registration: N7247Z
Aircraft: PIPER PA 25-235
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Glider tow event
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Glider Tow 

The tow plane pilot reported that, during takeoff for a glider tow, about 20 to 30 ft above ground, the airplane lurched forward and pitched nose down. He added that he pushed the tow line release mechanism forward, but it did not feel as if the tow line released. The airplane impacted the ground in a nose low attitude, exited the runway, struck a runway light and runway sign, and ground looped.

The pilot of the glider being towed reported that, during takeoff, the glider became airborne and abruptly pitched into a steep nose high attitude, and he had lost sight of the tow airplane. He released the tow rope, maintained level flight attitude about 150 ft above ground, and landed on the grass adjacent to the runway without further incident.

The glider pilot reported in a follow up telephone conversation that the glider utilized a CG hook set up for the glider tow.

The tow airplane sustained substantial damage to the right wing.

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

Federal Aviation Administration's Glider Flying Handbook, FAA-H-8083-13A, contains a section titled "CG Hooks" which states:

A CG hook, as compared to a nose hook, makes a crosswind takeoff more difficult since the glider can weathervane into the wind more easily. In addition, a CG hook makes the glider more susceptible to kiting on takeoff, especially if the CG is near the aft limit. This can present a serious danger to the towplane during the aerotow.

It also contains a section titled "Aerotow Takeoff Procedures" which states:

One of the most dangerous occurrences during aerotow is allowing the glider to fly high above and losing sight of the towplane. The tension on the towline caused by the glider pulls the towplane tail up, lowering its nose. If the glider continues to rise, pulling the towplane tail higher, the tow pilot may not be able to raise the nose. Ultimately, the tow pilot may run out of up elevator authority.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 59, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Single
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Glider
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 02/21/2018
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 12/21/2017
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 2746 hours (Total, all aircraft), 33 hours (Total, this make and model), 2448 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 107 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 61 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: PIPER
Registration: N7247Z
Model/Series: PA 25-235 NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1965
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 25-3176
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 1
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 04/13/2018, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2900 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3517.9 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series: O-540-B2B5(C)
Rated Power: 250 hp
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KSCH, 378 ft msl
Observation Time: 1645 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 13 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 199°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 14°C / -9°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots/ 16 knots, 260°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.38 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Saratoga Springs, NY (5B2)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Saratoga Springs, NY (5B2)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1312 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt; Concrete
Airport Elevation: 433 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 32
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 4000 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None

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: 43.049444, -73.858611 (est)

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