Pilot injured when he loses control on slush-covered runway

The pilot reported that, during takeoff on a snow and slush covered runway in Wall, S.D., he decided to stay on the right half of the runway.

He added that, as the Van’s RV-12 began to rotate and the nose landing gear was off the runway, the left main landing gear encountered some slush. The airplane veered to the left about 15°, exited the runway to the left, and the nose landing gear collapsed.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and both wings. The pilot sustained minor injuries in the crash.

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

Probable Cause: The pilot’s improper decision to depart from a slush-covered runway, which resulted in a loss of directional control, a runway excursion, and a subsequent nose-over.

NTSB Identification: 99300

SAFE CFI Commentary

Asking ourselves questions – reflecting after action – is one of the most powerful learning tools – even when our flight is successful. This “after action de-brief” prevents embedding potentially harmful habits that may bite us later. SAFE‘s Master CFIs review these NTSB Accident Reports published in General Aviation News to provide questions and suggestions for improvement.

Perhaps the lure of a spring day after a long winter masked the hazard for this relatively low-time pilot? Slush can create a lot of drag on smaller wheels. Also perhaps rusty after winter layoff?

This April 2019 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

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