Sunday, February 4, 2018

Cessna 172P Skyhawk, N54873: Accident occurred December 14, 2017 in Valley Springs, Calaveras County, California

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Sacramento, California

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Valley Springs, CA
Accident Number: WPR18CA048
Date & Time: 12/14/2017, 1344 PST
Registration: N54873
Aircraft: CESSNA 172P
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control on ground
Injuries: 2 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 


The two commercial pilots reported that the purpose of the flight was to identify suitable emergency landing sites in the area. A small private airport was located, and they decided to make a landing. The right seat pilot took control and made a low pass over the runway and discovered piles of gravel blocking half the width of the runway. He decided to attempt a short field landing. While maneuvering for landing, the airplane was in a left bank turn when the wing collided with a tree. The pilot applied rudder control and thought about going around but decided against it due to trees blocking the runway. The airplane was put into a left wing down slip as he tried to keep the airplane as level as possible. The airplane touched down on the right-side landing gear and the right wing dug into the dirt. The airplane subsequently came to rest inverted.

During the accident sequence the airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, empennage and wing.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane or engine that would have precluded normal operation.

Neither pilot submitted the National Transportation Safety Board Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Form 6120.1. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from trees while maneuvering for landing and his decision to land on a surface with obstructions. 


Altitude - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Monitoring environment - Pilot (Cause)
Decision making/judgment - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Tree(s) - Effect on operation (Cause)
Debris/dirt/foreign object - Decision related to condition

Factual Information

History of Flight

Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Roll over (Defining event)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 72, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s):  Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Waiver Time Limited Special
Last FAA Medical Exam: 03/01/2017
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:

Pilot-Rated Passenger Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 75, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 None
Last FAA Medical Exam: 08/01/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CESSNA
Registration: N54873
Model/Series: 172P
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1981
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate:
Serial Number: 17275075
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Date/Type of Last Inspection:
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2299 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
Engine Model/Series: O-320 SERIES
Registered Owner: CATTO AIR LLC
Rated Power: 0 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Does Business As:
Operator Designator Code: 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KO22, 2120 ft msl
Observation Time: 2135 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 16 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 101°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 20°C / 1°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.14 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: RANCHO MURIETA, CA (RIU)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Valley Springs, CA (UNK)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0930 PST
Type of Airspace:

Airport Information

Airport: Wagon Wheel Ranch Privat Strip (UNK)
Runway Surface Type:
Airport Elevation: 1050 ft
Runway Surface Condition:
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Serious
Latitude, Longitude:  38.086111, -120.758611 (est)

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