Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Cessna 172S Skyhawk, N5311H, registered to and operated by L-Bird LLC: Accident occurred October 02, 2017 in Tonopah, Nye County, Nevada

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Las Vegas, Nevada

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

L-Bird LLC:  http://registry.faa.gov/N5311H

NTSB Identification: WPR18LA002
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, October 02, 2017 in Tonopah, NV
Aircraft: CESSNA 172S, registration: N5311H
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 2, 2017, about 1230 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 172 airplane, N5311H, was substantially damaged when it impacted a dry river bed near Tonopah, Nevada. The private pilot was not injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by L-Bird, LLC as a personal flight, conducted under the provision of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the local flight, which had departed Winnemucca Municipal Airport (WMC), Winnemucca, Nevada and was destined for St. George, Utah. 

According to the pilot, he refueled the accident airplane with about 52 gallons of 100 low lead aviation grade gasoline and then departed WMC with three other airplanes. The airplane was flown at an approximate altitude of 1,000 feet above ground level during cruise flight, which was uneventful until the airplane reached a large dry river bed in eastern Nevada. The pilot recounted that the engine began to sputter, a sound that resembled a cylinder misfire. Almost instantaneously, the engine rpm decreased from 2,200 rpm to 1,500 rpm. At the time of the event, the pilot had selected BOTH fuel tanks on the fuel selector and both magnetos were engaged. The pilot then cycled the throttle, which responded normally; however, the engine would not exceed 1,500 rpm when he advanced the throttle. He left the throttle in the full open position and configured the airplane for a precautionary landing by fully extending the flaps. He then completed a 180 degree turn over the riverbed to approach his selected landing zone with a headwind. After the airplane touched down, the pilot applied back pressure to the yoke to keep the nose landing gear from touching down for as long as possible. Once the nose gear settled down, the airplane stopped abruptly, nosed over and came to rest inverted. 

A postaccident examination of the airplane by Federal Aviation Administration inspectors revealed substantial damage to the rudder. The debris field was comprised of about 200 feet of main landing gear marks and a nose landing gear impact mark where the airplane came to rest.

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