Friday, July 24, 2020

Loss of Control on Ground: American Champion 7GCBC, N952B; accident occurred July 12, 2020 in Frank Church Wilderness, Idaho

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Boise, Idaho

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: McCall, ID
Accident Number: WPR20CA227
Date & Time: 07/12/2020, 0830 MDT
Registration: N952B
Aircraft: Champion 7GCBC
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 approach into an airstrip with a short, upslope runway, he intentionally carried more airspeed for the purpose of having "energy to flare". During the flare, the airplane did not touchdown immediately, and when the airplane did touchdown, about 300 ft of runway remained. The airplane crested the top of the hill and the pilot applied additional braking action which resulted in the tail lifting. The airplane subsequently nosed over and came to rest inverted.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the right wing and rudder.

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

Pilot Information

Age: 61, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 06/11/2020
Occupational Pilot:No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 06/13/2020
Flight Time: (Estimated) 2078.2 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1847 hours (Total, this make and model), 2033.2 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 33.7 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 20.1 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Champion
Registration: N952B
Model/Series: 7GCBC No Series
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:2006
Amateur Built:No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 1408-2006
Landing Gear Type:Tailwheel
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 07/01/2020, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1950 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 13 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 1834.2 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Superior
ELT: C126 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-360-A3A2
Registered Owner: Brickley Construction
Rated Power: 180 hp
Operator: Brickley Construction
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KSMN, 4044 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 47 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0756 MDT
Direction from Accident Site: 92°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility: 10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts:Calm /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.07 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 13°C / 7°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Cabin Creek, ID
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Mile High, ID
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0815 MDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Mile Hi (PVT)
Runway Surface Type: Dirt; Grass/turf
Airport Elevation: 5831 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry; Rough; Soft; Vegetation
Runway Used: 19
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 560 ft / 30 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Full Stop

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: 45.150556, -114.999444 (est)

August 2019 -  Wilderness advocates and fans are upset over an Idaho Fish and Game airstrip built in the middle of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area but have little recourse to fight it.

The agency recently flew in a small 55-horsepower, 4,000-pound backhoe to build an airstrip at its Mitchell Ranch property about 3 miles off the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and along Marble Creek, a salmon- and steelhead-bearing stream. The agency says the strip increases access for hunters, anglers, trappers and others to the 2.3 million-acre wilderness area. But others worry the strip will add to what they say is congested air over the protected expanse of wild country and perhaps lead to sediment leaching into the pristine creek.

Because the strip was built on the agency’s property, it wasn’t subjected to federal wilderness regulations, such as a ban on motorized equipment operating there. Nor did it have to go through an Idaho State Historic Preservation Office review to ensure the construction didn’t unearth artifacts. Air travel into remote strips was authorized by the Central Idaho Wilderness Act of 1980, and there are several other strips there. The wilderness area surrounding the ranch is managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

Tom Curet, supervisor of Fish and Game’s Salmon Region, said the strip was built on a nonriparian area of the Mitchell Ranch and won’t damage water quality.

“It is on an upland area that was historically used as a potato field, away from the stream and not on saturated soils.”

He said some trenches were dug to keep water from pooling on one section of the strip, which will be open to the public once it becomes certified by the state. A few cottonwood trees also were cut down to make it safe to land.

Airstrips in the wilderness area have become congested during hunting season he said, and the new access point will help alleviate that. In recent years, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission scaled back on the number of nonresident deer and elk tags offered in the wilderness area by 90 percent because of crowding. Curet said the commission directed the department to do what it can to improve access. He said the agency has used grants to fund trail improvement work in the wilderness area that has fallen off because of tight federal budgets. In addition, a proliferation of fires there over the last decade or so have led to trails being clogged with fallen trees.

The agency also sought to add to the area’s remote airstrips.

“There had been flights there in the past, and we decided if we developed it it would provide more access to sportsmen,” Curet said. “I think it’s safe to say most Americans appreciate wilderness and wild areas, and the department does too. We want to be able to do proper management and have our sportsmen have the access that was agreed upon in the (Central Idaho) Wilderness Act.”

By law, federally designated wilderness areas are places where motorized and mechanical travel is forbidden. Even bicycles and wheelbarrows can’t be used there. For fans of wilderness, the rules are important to preserving the land in its primitive state and providing a place rife with solitude and do-it-yourself experiences.

Cort Connelly of Boise said the new airstrip is only about 3 miles from an existing strip at Thomas Creek.

He said the ranch is an archaeological site used both by American Indian tribes and by former homesteader and owner Billy Mitchell. Mitchell sold the property to the department in the late 1940s.

“He would have never wanted an airstrip there,” Connelly said. “It’s not only on a Wild and Scenic River, it’s on an archaeological site.”

Gary Macfarlane of the Friends of the Clearwater at Moscow said from pictures he has seen of the strip, it appears it was built in a lush riparian area.

“It doesn’t look like an upland area to me,” Macfarlane said. “There are a lot of sedges in there that have been scraped off. I am more than a little disappointed. Anybody concerned about wildlife and wetlands I think would be angry at what has happened there. I think the good folks at Fish and Game, and there are a lot, would also be angry and ashamed at what’s gone on there.”

Craig Gehrke of the Wilderness Society at Boise said his organization looked into the airstrip but determined since it was built on a state-owned inholding property surrounded by the federally designated wilderness area there were no legal levers to pull.

“I don’t think there is any particular recourse, but I’m concerned about wilderness values and what they plan to do with these airstrips,” Gehrke said.

Curet said the strip cost about $37,000 to build, not including the purchase price of the piece of equipment used there. He said the equipment will be used in other places. He also said the new strip is about 7 miles from the next closest airstrip.


  1. The new strip is 3.5 miles North from Thomas Creek Airport as the crow flies (over very rugged terrain), somewhat further if you are hiking the Idaho Centennial Trail along Salmon River and Marble Creek.

    Google measurement shows the strip is about 1500 feet long. The soil probably was good for potato farming, since it was built up as an oxbow bar, washed down over the years from those eroding 45 degree hills all around.

    Location is pinned on map here (image is before the strip existed):

    1. Airnav listing says it is 1160 feet long and very challenging.

  2. People are going to be unhappy no matter what you do. Especially when it comes to building or enlarging air strips. Build the strip; it is called progress.