Saturday, June 01, 2019

Hard Landing: Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser, N3937M, accident occurred June 01, 2018 in Nulato, Alaska

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fairbanks, Alaska

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Nulato, AK
Accident Number: GAA18CA320
Date & Time: 06/01/2018, 2330 AKD
Registration: N3937M
Aircraft: PIPER PA 12
Aircraft Damage:Substantial 
Defining Event: Hard landing
Injuries:2 None 
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal


The pilot reported that, while landing off airport on an upsloping ridge, the tailwheel-equipped airplane "touched down harder than preferred." He applied full throttle, initiated a go-around, and attempted to turn toward the down-sloping side of the hill. The airplane briefly became airborne, but it then aerodynamically stalled and nosed down into the tundra.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the engine mount.

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

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's improper landing flare, which resulted in a hard landing on upsloping terrain, and his subsequent failure to maintain adequate airspeed and his exceedance of the airplane's critical angle of attack during an attempted go-around, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall.


Angle of attack - Capability exceeded (Cause)
Airspeed - Not attained/maintained (Cause)
Landing flare - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Sloped/uneven terrain - Contributed to outcome

Factual Information

History of Flight

Hard landing (Defining event)

Landing-aborted after touchdown
Attempted remediation/recovery
Nose over/nose down

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 53, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 10/19/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 02/24/2018
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 315.4 hours (Total, all aircraft), 211.2 hours (Total, this make and model), 252.5 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 20.6 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 16.3 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2.5 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: PIPER
Registration: N3937M
Model/Series: PA 12 NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1947
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 12-2825
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 3
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/12/2018, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:  as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-320
Registered Owner: DOUGLAS DOWNS
Rated Power: 160 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Dusk
Observation Facility, Elevation: PAKV, 181 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 44 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0753 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 156°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 4 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 250°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.03 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 13°C / 4°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Galena, AK (GAL)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Nulato, AK (NUL)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 2100 AKD
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 65.000000, -159.416667 (est)

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