Aviation Accident Summaries

Aviation Accident Summary SEA97LA063


Aircraft #1


Maule M-5-180


During a VFR flight over an overcast, the pilot decided to descend through what appeared to be a hole in the clouds. During the descent, the aircraft entered instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) and began picking up ice. About two minutes after entering IMC, the aircraft broke out of the clouds with about one-half inch of clear ice on its exterior. Because the aircraft's flight characteristics were changed by the accumulation of ice, the pilot decided to land at the nearest airport. Because of the ice build-up, the pilot elected to fly final faster than normal, and the aircraft ultimately touched down long and fast. While trying to slow the aircraft during the landing roll, the pilot failed to maintain directional control, and the aircraft exited the runway and rolled through tall sagebrush.

Factual Information

On February 21, 1997, approximately 1530 Pacific standard time, the pilot of a Maule M-5-180, N5652W, lost control of his aircraft during the landing roll at Rome State Airport, near Jordan Valley, Oregon. The private pilot, who was the sole occupant, was not injured, but the aircraft sustained substantial damage to the wing structure. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal pleasure flight, which departed Marysville, California about five hours earlier, was being operated in visual meteorological conditions at the time of the accident. The aircraft was on a VFR flight plan, and there was no report of an ELT activation. According to the pilot, while en route from Marysville, California to Boise, Idaho, he elected to descend through a break in the overcast. While attempting to descend through what appeared to be a hole in the clouds, he inadvertently entered instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). He continued an IMC descent for about two minutes, during which time about one-half inch of clear ice accumulated on the aircraft's exterior. After breaking out of the clouds, the pilot noticed that it took considerable left aileron to keep the aircraft level, and that it was "sluggish" in performance. Because of the unusual flight characteristics, and because the ice was not melting off, he proceeded directly to Rome State Airport in order to get the aircraft on the ground. He said that the winds were down the runway at five knots, but because the aircraft had ice on it, he came in fast and landed long. During the landing roll, while trying to slow the aircraft, the pilot failed to maintain directional control, and the aircraft departed the runway and ran through some tall sagebrush. The pilot said that there had been no mechanical malfunction or unusual weather condition at the airport, but that "It just got away from me."

Probable Cause and Findings

failure of the pilot to maintain directional control of the aircraft, while landing. Factors relating to the accident included: the pilot's improper inflight decision to attempt a descent through what appeared to be a hole in the clouds, his inadvertent flight into icing conditions in the clouds, airframe icing, and tall vegetation growing in the vicinity of the runway.


Source: NTSB Aviation Accident Database

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