COCHRANE – A privately-owned light aircraft took a trip before even making it off the runway of the Springbank Airport Tuesday, Jan. 11.
A strong gust of wind picked up the tail of the plane, a Cessna 182, and tipped it onto its top while it was being operated by a pilot on the taxiway.
According to Larry Stock, Springbank Airport general manager with the Calgary Airport Authority, the cause of the incident was a combination of an excessive crosswind and the position of the plane.
"If he had his nose into the wind, he would have been better off but he was trying to make the corner, and at the corner, you encounter crosswinds from tailwinds," he said.
"It's with that crosswind component that the gust was able to lift his wing."
The pilot, who was preparing for take off to his base of operations out of northeastern Alberta, was unharmed in the incident.
His plane on the other hand, took on significant damage.
"The damage to the aircraft was substantial," said Stock. "When the aircraft lifted up, the nose went down and the propeller struck ground which results in engine issues. And then when the tail struck the ground, the rudder and elevator portions of the aircraft were also substantially damaged."
The airport reported westerly wind speeds of 74 km/h and gusts of up to 98 km/h the day of the incident, which was enough to keep flight schools on the ground.
"The flight schools have a wind component," explained Stock. "The aircraft the flight schools operate are light, they're not medium or heavy aircraft, and as a result of that — with the wind conditions — they just cease operations."
The Cessna 182 is considered a light aircraft, but the pilot was certified to fly his plane under the conditions.
"The critical phase for this type of weather is landing and taking off, and getting to the runway and off the runway safely," Stock said. "For a medium aircraft, it wouldn't have been a problem.
"For a light aircraft, it's very, very tricky."
Stock added most of the pilots that regularly operate out of the Springbank Airport understand how and where gusty wind conditions will affect their ability to take off and land, if they're operating a lighter aircraft.
In his long tenure at the airport, this is the first occurrence like this that he's witnessed.
"I've been here at this airport since it was transferred federally from Transport Canada to the Calgary Airport Authority," he said. "This is the first wind gusting aircraft accident I've seen. It's very uncommon."
The incident was reported to the Transportation Safety Board and the plane was cleared from the taxiway with the use of crane.