On 19 May 2013, the pilot of a Pietenpol Air Camper commenced pre-flight checks in a paddock behind his home in St Leonards, about 9 km north of Launceston Airport, Tasmania. The pilot was taking a passenger on a scenic flight around Launceston.
The pilot had operated the aircraft from the paddock in the past, but not for a few years. Prior to landing in the paddock, a week earlier, the pilot had surveyed the area by car.
The aircraft was operating normally and became airborne at about 35 knots indicated airspeed. The pilot held the aircraft low, aiming to clear a fence at the end of the paddock. Nearing the fence, the pilot heard a loud noise and the nose of the aircraft jolted to the right.
The airspeed quickly decreased, as the pilot attempted to hold the wings level. After initially climbing to about 10 ft, the aircraft impacted the ground, breaking the landing gear. The aircraft skidded on its nose and then pitched over onto its back, breaking the propeller.
Both the pilot and the front seat passenger exited the aircraft without injury. On surveying the accident site, the pilot realised the aircraft’s landing gear had caught the top wire of an electric fence he had not been aware of, located a short distance before the paddock’s main fence.
When not operating from a designated landing area, pilots should ensure the area is suitable. A thorough survey of the area to be used for take-off and landing should be completed prior to use.