Robert Petersen was having a great day flying his classic, fully restored 1954 Cessna 180 until landing at his home airport in Cameron Park on May 21.
Being a tail dragger, Cessna 180s, as with all conventional gear airplanes, can be tricky on landing. Petersen said it was a perfect three-point landing until a gust of wind lifted his left wing to the point of causing the right wing to touch its wing tip, causing the proverbial ground loop and flipping over of his aircraft.
Petersen has been flying for more than 55 years and has 3,000 hours, owning this Cessna for 22 years and flying it all over the country. Worth $300,000, it was featured by the Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association in its April 2009 edition of Pilot magazine. Petersen said the damage to his aircraft may be as much as $125,000, depending on the engine, which had a prop strike.
Petersen’s only injury was a cut to his head caused when he released his seat harness and hit his head on the roof of the upside-down aircraft.
During World War II flight training, ground loops were an everyday occurrence during flight training in Stearman biplanes and even a somewhat common occurrence in advanced aircraft as most were tail draggers.