Saturday, May 15, 2021

Abnormal Runway Contact: Cessna 185, N185; accident occurred May 16, 2020 at Left Coulee Airport (LC0), Winifred, Fergus County, Montana

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Helena, Montana

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Winifred, Montana 
Accident Number: WPR20CA149
Date & Time: May 16, 2020, 19:00 Local 
Registration: N185
Aircraft: Cessna 185 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Abnormal runway contact 
Injuries: 3 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal


The pilot reported that trees lined the east side of the dirt airstrip, and the first 800 ft sloped up, then doglegged to the left at the top. The pilot reported that he flew over the treetops and after he flared the airplane, it touched down and bounced. The pilot added power to counteract the bounce; however, it bounced a second time. The pilot then added full power to go around. While the airplane was still in ground effect, it crested the top of the upslope and a strong gust of wind pushed the airplane to the right directly toward a tree. The pilot added left rudder control in an attempt to avoid the tree; however, the outboard portion of the right wing impacted the tree. The airplane entered a sideways skid, touched down, and skidded for about 150 ft before it came to a stop. The fuselage and both wings were substantially damaged. The pilot reported no 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:
An inadequate flare that resulted in a bounced landing and the pilot's subsequent delayed decision to go-around that did not allow for sufficient clearance from trees when the airplane was affected by a gusting wind.


Aircraft Landing flare - Not attained/maintained
Personnel issues Delayed action - Pilot
Personnel issues Aircraft control - Pilot
Environmental issues Gusts - Effect on operation

Factual Information

History of Flight

Landing-flare/touchdown Abnormal runway contact (Defining event)
Approach-VFR go-around Other weather encounter
Approach-VFR go-around Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline transport 
Age: 52,Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land; Multi-engine land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap only
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None 
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 With waivers/limitations 
Last FAA Medical Exam: February 11, 2020
Occupational Pilot: Yes 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: April 18, 2020
Flight Time: 10700 hours (Total, all aircraft), 349 hours (Total, this make and model), 2300 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 50 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 20 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna 
Registration: N185
Model/Series: 185 Undesignated
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1961
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 185-0154
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel 
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: January 14, 2020 Annual 
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3200 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 23 Hrs
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 4614 Hrs as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Continental
ELT: C91 installed, not activated 
Engine Model/Series: IO-470 SERIES
Registered Owner: 
Rated Power: 260 Horsepower
Operator: On file 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC)
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: S71,2416 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 43 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 19:00 Local
Direction from Accident Site: 7°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Visibility: 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 3 knots / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 120° 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.7 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 24°C / 7°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Great Falls, MT (GTF)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Winifred, MT (LC0)
Type of Clearance: VFR; Traffic advisory
Departure Time: 16:00 Local 
Type of Airspace: Military operation area; Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Left Coulee Airport LC0 
Runway Surface Type: Dirt
Airport Elevation: 3150 ft msl 
Runway Surface Condition: Dry; Rough; Vegetation
Runway Used: 09
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 1600 ft / 60 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Full stop; Traffic pattern

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 None
Latitude, Longitude: 47.885276,-109.022781(est)

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