The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Air Safety Institute (ASI) released a new video from its Early Analysis series providing an initial examination of a tragic accident that took place last week.
On May 20, 2022, a Cessna 140 crashed at the MayDay STOL (Short Takeoff and Landing) event being held in Wayne, Nebraska. No injuries on the ground were reported. Sadly, pilot Tom Dafoe, the only occupant in the aircraft, died as a result of the accident. The winds were too strong to hold the event which would have been a STOL Drag competition – a test of speed and precision measured by time and combined takeoff and landing distance. Dafoe and other pilots decided to fly a traditional STOL demonstration where pilots fly a typical box pattern, keeping the takeoff and landing distance as short as possible.
“In Early Analysis: N76075, the AOPA Air Safety Institute wants to help pilots understand what is known about the accident. We look at factors that are likely to be the subject of an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)," said AOPA's ASI Senior Vice President Richard McSpadden. "It appeared Dafoe’s Cessna 140 made an S-turn for spacing behind a Zenith 701 to compensate for the Cessna’s faster speed leading to a stall/spin accident. A lesson general aviation pilots can take away from this accident is to always have a Plan B when following closely behind a slower aircraft—including breaking off and performing a go-around."
McSpadden continued, "STOL events are opportunities to bring people together and we want to ensure these types of events can continue. This unfortunate accident can provide lessons to help all pilots protect against a stall/spin accident. It is important to remember this video was made solely on information that is currently available to provide an understanding of the accident. The NTSB can conclude further information through their investigation that was previously unknown, which could alter our understanding of this accident.”
Early Analysis videos provide an initial assessment of prominent mishaps that generate large public interest and may indicate important safety lessons for the general aviation community.