Earnhardt Pilots Said Go Around Problem Preceded Crash


The pilots of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Citation Latitude told the NTSB the aircraft “did not respond as expected” as they tried to go around after a rough landing at Elizabethton Airport in Tennessee earlier this month. In the preliminary report on the Aug. 15 accident, which destroyed the aircraft and resulted in minor injuries to Earnhardt, his wife and their baby, the NTSB said the crew called it quits after the second bounce on the 4500-foot runway after an uneventful 20-minute VFR flight on a calm, mostly sunny day. It’s not clear from the report what anomaly the pilots said they encountered but with more than half of the runway behind them, they set up to land and hit hard with only about 1,000 feet of asphalt left.

The right gear collapsed and the aircraft continued over the grass overrun, through a ditch and across a highway where it caught fire. The pilots got the main door open and helped the Earnhardt family to safety. The pilots were unhurt but the Earnhardts had scrapes and bruises. The cockpit, with its G5000 panel, was undamaged and the data from the avionics was downloaded. Both pilots were experienced, current and hold ATPs.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. As I said to a fellow private pilot like myself:
    After messing up the ldg bouncing twice, they decide to go around and say the AC didn’t respond, I guess with thrust, properly. So, they blame the THIRD TD on the airplane INSTEAD of the FIRST link in the CHAIN (as we are told there are often several that lead to an airplane crash) which was they screwed (for a more polite word) up the landing.

    • The NTSB always does some preliminary work before releasing videos. Always. There is also a chance that other sources have video, that are sometimes released earlier, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in the Earnhardt botched landing.

  2. Bob B. :
    Probably not released for the same reason the flight data for the flight was not available at Flight Aware. That web site states even today:
    “This aircraft (N8JR) is not available for public tracking per request from the owner/operator.”