October 17, 2019

Failed Wing Strut Led to Snowshoe Lake Fatal Crash


In a report released by the Transportation Safety Board last week, the failure of a Piper Cub’s left main wing strut while overflying Snowshoe Lake near Kenora, Ontario, led to the crash of the two-place ski-equipped J3C-65 Cub onto the lake’s frozen surface, claiming the lives of the pilot and his passenger.

The aircraft, which was owned by the pilot, took off from Gun Lake, Ontario, destined for a hunting and fishing lodge at Snowshoe Lake also owned by the pilot. The pilot held a commercial pilot licence and a Category 3 medical certificate.

In August of 2015, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD) requiring the periodic inspection of the wing struts for corrosion. Compliance with the AD was required every 24 months. There was no record of compliance for the occurrence aircraft.

The two pieces of the Piper’s left main wing strut.

The passenger, who was an employee of the pilot, was in the rear part of the tandem-seat Piper, but no seat was installed. Although the aircraft was determined to have been within its weight and balance envelope, there were also numerous small cargo items that were not securely stored for flight in the aircraft.

Lap belts were installed in both the front and rear seating positions, but neither occupant wore them.

Although required by regulation, there was no ELT on board. When the crash occurred, witnesses at the nearby lodge alerted emergency services.

The full TSB report is appended below.

Photos courtesy of the TSB