Sunday, January 17, 2021

Loss of Control on Ground: Cessna A185F, N185KL; accident occurred July 13, 2020 at Jefferson County International Airport (0S9), Port Townsend, Washington

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Des Moines, Washington

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Port Townsend, WA
Accident Number: WPR20CA220
Date & Time: 07/13/2020, 1330 PDT
Aircraft:Cessna A185 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control on ground
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

The pilot of a tailwheel equipped airplane reported that, during the landing roll with a crosswind, he utilized full right aileron input to maintain directional control. The airplane encountered a gust of wind from the right that lifted the right wing, and the left wing dropped and impacted the runway surface. The airplane then began to veer to the right. While the pilot was attempting to correct, the airplane nosed over.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings, right lift strut, vertical stabilizer 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

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 40, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
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 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 01/31/2020
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 04/30/2019
Flight Time: (Estimated) 1207 hours (Total, all aircraft), 345 hours (Total, this make and model), 1134 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 32 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 17 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N185KL
Model/Series: A185 F
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1975
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 18502798
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 08/01/2019, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3350 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 5460 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Continental
ELT: C126 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: IO-550-D-20B
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power:300 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: K0S9, 47 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 19 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1955 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 18°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility: 10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 6 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: Variable
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.14 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 19°C / 11°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Arlington, WA (AWO)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Port Townsend, WA (0S9)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1300 PDT
Type of Airspace:Class G 

Airport Information

Airport: Jefferson County Intl (0S9)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 110 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 27
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3000 ft / 75 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Full Stop; Traffic Pattern

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: 48.053889, -122.810556 (est)


  1. This is why I'm never going to purchase a conventional gear airplane. A perfectly good airplane, a beautiful day, light winds, no problem, right? The pilot seems very confident and experienced, yet caught a gust and ended up on his back, probably totaled that beautiful 185. I realize that there are runways (or 'strips') that pretty much require an airplane with conventional gear, and I tip my hat to those pilots who master the challenges of landing and maneuvering these planes on the ground. It's not that I don't believe I can learn to become proficient with a tailwheel airplane, but Kathryn's report is chock full of incidents just like these that caught some pilots by surprise, usually ending up with a scraped wingtip, departure into the grass, or worse. I've chatted with a lot of my friends who fly tailwheel planes, and they all say the same thing; you gotta stay in total control whenever the plane is moving on the ground. Although the same could be said of tricycle gear airplanes, it's just not the same level of concentration. I suspect you're going to think I'm a wimp, but at this point in my flying activities, I just don't need that extra level of risk when I fly.

  2. Having owned a tail dragger, would never do it again. And it's not just you have to worry about, it's your three other partners that fly once or twice a month.

  3. 4500+ hours in taildraggers, from Luscombes to Champs to Pitts to 185's...I wouldn't have anything else other than a taildragger

    1. Have flown tail draggers from the DC-3 down to Cessna 180's 170's, 140's, Champs, Super Cubs, J-3's, Luscombes, Taylorcrafts, etc. No excuse for not paying full and complete attention when flying any aircraft. Yes, I've flown tricycles too.

  4. Flying a tailwheel airplane isn't difficult, as proven by the fact that (almost) everyone learned to fly in tailwheel airplanes years ago...myself included. You just have to be awake while taxiing, taking off, and landing. Be aware of the wind and runway conditions. I love it when I read these accident reports, and the pilot invariably blames the groundloop or the crash on a "sudden gust of wind." Wind gusts are a part of flying. Just pay attention to what you're doing, and remember that you are flying an airplane – not driving a car.