Citation Crashes in North Carolina

AINsafety » March 19, 2012
March 19, 2012, 4:00 PM

A single-pilot-certified Cessna Citation 501 crashed Thursday, March 16, afternoon while on approach to Rwy 25 at Macon County Airport in Franklin, N.C. An eyewitness told AIN the aircraft was “too high and too fast” crossing the runway threshold to safely land.

Rather than execute a missed approach and enter a visual traffic pattern for a second try, the pilot began a steep left turn while attempting to lose altitude. The turn became a spiral as the aircraft rolled out lower, but still at a high speed. As the pilot evidently attempted to force the aircraft down to the 5,000-foot runway, the Citation hit the surface, nose gear first, and bounced back into the air.

The same witness said that as the pilot appeared to attempt a go-around after the bounce, the right wing caught the ground and the aircraft cartwheeled, bursting into flames. All five people aboard the aircraft were killed.

An NTSB inspector on the scene said the owner/pilot had logged approximately 1,100 hours total flight time, with about 200 of them in the Citation. While high terrain near the airport translates into circling-only IFR minimums of 1,600 feet AGL, weather overhead the airport was good VFR with nearly calm winds at the time of the accident. 

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Ralph Lamar Marshall
on March 21, 2012 - 8:30am

This airport has been the subject of controversy for many years. It is ill-placed in a very small valley with high mountains all around. Residences are close and an elementary school is only 1/4 mile from the runway. The recent lengthening of the runway to accommodate jets was hotly contested by local citizens. It is a tragedy waiting to happen.

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Chad Trautvetter
on March 21, 2012 - 9:26am

Ralph, you know what else is located in a very small valley with high mountains all around and is even closer to the school? Roads. Far more people die every day from car crashes and auto-pedestrian collisions than from airplane accidents. So if you want to get rid of the airport, then by your logic all of the roads will need to be ripped up, too. And let’s get rid of those pesky cars while we’re at it – they’re really dangerous machines that kill people, after all.

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Robert P. Mark
on March 21, 2012 - 11:51am

No one seems to like airports in their neighborhood Ralph. With only a few exceptions though, it’s not the airports that are unsafe, anymore than it’s the aircraft.

In this case the aircraft was operating just fine and the weather was good.

The training of the pilot who made the decisions he did in this case … that’s a whole other issue.

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