The Cessna Citation Latitude carrying retired race car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., his wife, and infant daughter bounced twice on landing and collapsed the right main landing gear on the third touchdown preceding its runway excursion and post-crash fire, according to the NTSB preliminary report on the August 15 accident. It then went off the departure end of Runway 24 at Tennessee’s Elizabethton Municipal Airport, traveled across an open area of grass, down an embankment, through a chain-link fence, and up an embankment before coming to a stop on the edge of a highway.
The pilot and copilot were not injured, while the passengers sustained minor injuries. The airplane was registered to JRM Air and operated under Part 91. Day VMC and calm wind prevailed. No flight plan was filed for the short hop from Statesville Regional Airport in North Carolina.
Airport surveillance video captured the aircraft’s initial contact, which occurred near the runway touchdown zone, and portions of the accident sequence. The pilots’ account of the landing was generally consistent with the video. Following the second bounce, the pilots attempted a go-around; “however, the aircraft did not respond as expected, so they attempted to land straight-ahead on the runway,” the NTSB said.
Although damaged by the fire, the cockpit voice recorder was recovered.