Blinding sunshine brings a plane down into trees

General Aviation News will often print excerpts of accident reports put together by the USA’s National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) – including a July 2009 report about a Piper J-3 that suffered substantial damage in South Charleston, West Virginia.

According to the accident report, the Piper’s pilot was practicing takeoffs and landings late in the afternoon. The first two patterns went smoothly but while executing the third approach, the pilot was blinded by the setting sun during the landing flare. Hence, the Piper ended up touching down on its left main landing gear and then it bounced too high – forcing the pilot to attempt a go-around. However, the aircraft instead stalled and ended up in the trees bordering the runway.

And while the probable cause was ruled the pilot’s failure to maintain control of the aircraft while attempting a go-around, the other indirect cause was practicing takeoffs and landings late in the afternoon while the sun was starting to set.

Sun Set

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