Saturday, January 04, 2020

Loss of Control in Flight: Piper PA-18-90 Super Cub, N3298Z; accident occurred January 19, 2019 in Iron Mountain, Dickinson County, Michigan

Photograph of N3298Z Inverted in the Snow.

Photograph Showing the Pilot’s Side of the Inverted Airplane.

Photograph Showing the Passenger’s Side of the Inverted Airplane.

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Grand Rapids, Michigan

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Iron Mountain, MI
Accident Number: CEN19CA062
Date & Time: 01/19/2019, 1335 EST
Registration: N3298Z
Aircraft: Piper PA 18
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal


On January 19, 2019, about 1315 central standard time, a Piper PA-28 airplane, N3298Z, impacted terrain near Iron Mountain, Michigan. The airline transport-rated pilot sustained minor injuries, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight that originated at Ford Airport, Iron Mountain, Michigan. The pilot reported that he had conducted an uneventful sight-seeing flight and intended to return to the departure airport. He initiated a left turn about 800 ft above a lake and became distracted while focusing on a distant point across the frozen and snow-covered lake. The pilot added that he lost reference to the horizon while continuing in a descending left turn until ground impact.

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

The departure airport's automated surface observation system, located 6 miles west of the accident site, reported that, about 20 minutes before the accident, winds were from 020º at 5 knots, 10 miles visibility, ceiling overcast at 3,500 ft, temperature -11ºC, dew point -18ºC, and altimeter setting of 30.19 inches of mercury.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's distraction and subsequent loss of situational awareness and visual horizon in overcast sky conditions, which led to an unrecognized descent during a low-level maneuver and subsequent impact with snow-covered terrain.


Personnel issues
Situational awareness - Pilot (Cause)
Attention - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Snowy/icy terrain - Contributed to outcome
Clouds - Effect on operation

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying
Loss of control in flight (Defining event)

Uncontrolled descent
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport
Age: 62, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 09/10/2018
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 01/03/2019
Flight Time:  15196 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1250 hours (Total, this make and model), 14696 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 40 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 15 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N3298Z
Model/Series: PA 18 150
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1959
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 18-7240
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 08/24/2018, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1750 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3995.64 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Continental
ELT: Installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: C90-12F
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 90 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KIMT, 1122 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 6 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1254 CST
Direction from Accident Site: 263°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 3500 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 20°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 30.19 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: -11°C / -18°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Iron Mountain Kingsford, MI (IMT)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Iron Mountain Kingsford, MI (IMT)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1315 CST
Type of Airspace: Class E

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: 45.830000, -87.980000 (est)

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