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Fatal distraction: Snow and iceFatal distraction: Snow and ice

In keeping with our look at the lighter side of aviation accidents during this holiday season, we at the Air Safety Foundation thought it would be fitting to bring you a compilation of accident reports involving snow and ice. No one was injured in any of these accidents, which all occurred in 2000.

On December 20th a Beech F33A was substantially damaged when it impacted a snow bank during taxi at the Winona, Minnesota airport. As the pilot taxied to Runway 11 for takeoff he observed the weather deteriorating. Seeing the snow blowing harder he decided to taxi the full length of the runway to check its condition. After making the (good) decision not to depart, the pilot slid into a snow bank while taxiing clear of the runway.

On the same day in Elkhart Indiana a dual instructional flight ended on a rough note when a C-172 crashed into a snow bank. According to the CFI, during the landing rollout the airplane slid sideways on a patch of unseen ice. The student attempted to correct the aircraft's movement, but the aircraft struck a snow bank on the edge of the runway.

On December 16th, in Tulsa Oklahoma, a Piper PA-28 sustained substantial damage after being blown into a snow bank while landing in gusty conditions. The purpose of the flight was to conduct an airplane check out with a private pilot and CFI onboard. On approach, the private pilot maintained a higher than normal airspeed to compensate for the "choppy conditions." During the flare, the airplane bounced and drifted left of the centerline. As the private pilot initiated a go around, the CFI assumed control and attempted to land. The airplane departed the runway and struck a snow bank on the left side.

Always use extra caution when operating in cold conditions. As these accidents show, snow and ice can turn a seemingly simple operation into a costly ordeal. For more information about winter flying, see Bruce Landsberg's Safety Pilot article from the December 2001 issue of AOPA Pilot magazine.

Accident reports can be found in ASF's accident database.

Return to the ePilot accident report main page.