A single-pilot-certified Cessna Citation 501 crashed Thursday, March 16, afternoon while on approach to Rwy 25 at Macon County Airport in Franklin, N.C. An eyewitness told AIN the aircraft was “too high and too fast” crossing the runway threshold to safely land.
Rather than execute a missed approach and enter a visual traffic pattern for a second try, the pilot began a steep left turn while attempting to lose altitude. The turn became a spiral as the aircraft rolled out lower, but still at a high speed. As the pilot evidently attempted to force the aircraft down to the 5,000-foot runway, the Citation hit the surface, nose gear first, and bounced back into the air.
The same witness said that as the pilot appeared to attempt a go-around after the bounce, the right wing caught the ground and the aircraft cartwheeled, bursting into flames. All five people aboard the aircraft were killed.
An NTSB inspector on the scene said the owner/pilot had logged approximately 1,100 hours total flight time, with about 200 of them in the Citation. While high terrain near the airport translates into circling-only IFR minimums of 1,600 feet AGL, weather overhead the airport was good VFR with nearly calm winds at the time of the accident.