This report was compiled in the interest of promoting aviation safety and not to establish legal liability. 


The aircraft departed Wonderboom Aerodrome (FAWB) at approximately 12h00Z with five occupants onboard for a flight to Sishen. After being airborne for approximately two hours they joined overhead Sishen aerodrome at 2000 feet AGL (above ground level). The wind was assessed to be from the north-west and Runway 35 was elected for landing. According to the pilot, the indicated airspeed overhead the runway threshold was approximately 100 knots with the prevailing wind being from the left. 

Shortly before touchdown they encountered a sudden sink rate, the pilot applied back-pressure on the control column but was unable to arrest the descent and a hard landing followed, which caused the aircraft to bounce. During the bounce, the aircraft rolled to the left and pitched down resulting in the left propeller making contact with the runway surface on the second touchdown. 

After the aircraft was brought to a halt, it was taxied to the apron where the after flight inspection revealed that the propeller was damaged, rendering further flight unsafe. During an interview with the pilot he mentioned that a sudden change in wind direction might have occurred, resulting in a loss of lift once overhead the threshold, which was not anticipated. 

The last MPI (Mandatory Periodic Inspection) prior to the incident was certified on 19 November 2004, at 4 829.3 airframe hours. Since the inspection a further 93.6 hours were flown. 


The pilot executed a hard landing, which caused the aircraft to bounce. He applied the incorrect recovery technique by allowing the aircraft to roll to the left and pitch down resulting in the left propeller striking the runway surface during the second touch down. 


Repeat after me five million times; ‘aeroplanes do not bounce.’ I had to get that out of the way to clear my head for the rest of this discussion. I will come back to it shortly. 

Next head clearer: Nobody goes to Sishen for fun – it’s a hot dusty mining town full of hot dusty miners. The accident report says there were 2+3 on board. So 5 people were going to Sishen on a private flight? Really? If I was their insurer I would get my bloodhounds to find out who paid for the flight. 

I would also ask questions about who was actually working the levers during this clumsy attempt at landing. 

The only reasonable explanation for them listing two crew is that it was a training flight. But that doesn’t fit because the PIC wasn’t an instructor and a Seneca doesn’t require two crew. The PIC was a 670 hour PPL with 150 hours on type. Was someone trying to find a way of hour-building? And if there really were two crew, which one was the pilot flying during this nonsense? 

While we are on the subject, the pilot flying, and logging the hours as PIC, does not need to be in the left hand seat. The regs simply require that if two pilots who are rated on type are in the front, the PIC must be nominated before the flight. It matters not which seat he or she occupies. 

If I were their insurance company I would pick up the scent of a rodent and follow it to its source. I must add that I have no idea what was going on, but it does no harm to speculate in the interests of safety. I can only imagine the possible grounds for repudiation of claims and the amount of crap that would have been flung around if anyone had been killed. 

Okay that’s enough of the legalities. The flying side is simple. 

According to the POH the correct approach speed is 83kts at gross. And this can be reduced to 78kts when lighter. So when this aircraft had a threshold speed roughly 20 knots faster than the correct approach speed, I can only wonder what they planning. It seems that a decent landing somewhere in the first half of the runway was not high on their agenda. 

Guys and girls, we all know this, so why, oh why, is there a constant stream of aviators trying to prove that wooshing over the fence with enough extra speed to zoom to circuit height can possibly have a cool outcome? 

It can’t – ever. 

You wouldn’t do it in a Boeing, and you wouldn’t do it in a Piper Cub – so why the hell do it in a Seneca? And having done it and pushed the aeroplane down on to its nosewheel, got a fright, hauled the stick back and sailed into the air again, why didn’t they think it might be intelligent to smoothly take full power and go around for another more graceful attempt at alighting? 

A go-around is such an elegant operation. And it elicits praise from ATCs, pilots, and even passengers when they understand why it’s happening. “Okay folks I wasn’t happy we would get a good landing off that approach, so to be safe we are going around.” 

Even better, warn them of the possibility, “There is a strong, gusty wind, so if I am not happy about the landing, we will be doing a go-around.” This way you are also briefing yourself, and giving yourself permission to do it, and feel good about it. 


• Get your legalities right. You might be able to bull-dust your pax if all goes well, but if you slip up and damage people or property it could ruin the rest of your life. 

• Cross the threshold at the correct speed. 

• ‘Go-around’ is not a dirty word – it’s one that the best pilots hold in high esteem. 


Aircraft Registration: ZS-LTX 

Date of Accident: 10 March 2005 

Time of Accident: 14h00Z 

Type of Aircraft: Piper PA 34-220T 

Type of Operation: Private 

Pilot-in-command Licence Type: Private 

Age: 43 

Licence Valid: Yes 


Total Flying Hours: 670.9 

Hours on Type: 152.7 

Last point of departure: 

Wonderboom Aerodrome (FAWB). 

Next point of intended landing: Sishen Aerodrome (FASS). Mining town in the Northern Cape 

Location of the accident Runway: 

35, Sishen Aerodrome 


Surface Wind: ±305°/15kts gusting 25kts, Temperature: 30°C, Visibility: Good 

Number of people on board: 2 + 3 

No. of people injured:

No. of people killed: