Saturday, July 13, 2019

Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP, N517LA: Fatal accident occurred July 13, 2019 near West Houston Airport (KIWS), Harris County, Texas

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Houston, Texas
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Katy, TX

Accident Number: CEN19FA221 
Date & Time: 07/13/2019, 1030 CDT
Registration: N517LA
Aircraft: Cessna 172
Injuries:1 Fatal 
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On July 13, 2019, about 1030 central daylight time, a Cessna 172S (Skykawk SP) airplane, N517LA, impacted a community center building in a residential area in Katy, Texas. The private pilot who was the sole occupant sustained fatal injuries. There were no ground injuries. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a post-crash fire. The airplane was registered to BLH Visions, LLC, and was operated by the West Houston Airport (IWS), Houston, Texas, under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a visual flight rules personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from IWS about 1000.

According to records supplied by the operator, the pilot had rented the airplane to conduct a personal flight in the local area. The airplane was automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) equipped. A preliminary review of the ADS-B data and OpsVue track data showed the airplane departed from runway 33 at IWS to the north and made a left turn to the southwest. The airplane continued to travel southwest over Interstate 10 (I-10). The airplane traveled to the south of the Houston Methodist Continuing Care Hospital and then continued to the west before disappearing from the two data sources near South Fry Road. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that no air traffic control services were provided to the pilot on the accident flight.

Shortly after the accident occurred, various first responder units consisting of firefighters and law enforcement officers traveled to the accident site. Firefighting operations and site securement operations were conducted. On July 14, 2019, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge, an aviation safety inspector from the FAA, and two air safety investigators from Textron Aviation traveled to the accident site. The accident site, about 112 feet above mean sea level and about 4 miles southwest of IWS, was located at the Mason Creek Community Center (MCCC) in Katy, Texas. The MCCC, operated by the Mason Creek Utility District, is a several acre complex that includes eight tennis courts, three swimming pools, and three event rooms.

The investigative team members documented the accident site and the wreckage. The team members also canvassed the surrounding neighborhood area. A 60-foot pine tree located on private property with a home located at the intersection of Hardwidge Court and Houghton Road sustained damage from the airplane impacting several branches. The home, located about 200-feet to the southeast of the MCCC, sustained no damage.

To the northwest of the damaged pine tree, in an asphalt parking lot for the MCCC, several ground scars from the powered rotation of the propeller blades were observed on the northern side of the parking lot. The airplane fragmented into several sections upon impacting a small wood and concrete block building that served as restrooms and a chemical storage room for the MCCC pools. A review of MCCC security camera footage as shown in figure 1 and figure 2 showed the impact sequence.

Figure 1 - Security camera footage of the airplane impacting the building (courtesy of the MCCC).

Figure 2 - Security camera footage of the postimpact explosion (courtesy of the MCCC).

The empennage, the left wing, and part of the outboard right wing came to rest in the building. The chemical storage room was incinerated from the fire. The fuselage, engine, and inboard right wing continued along the north side of the building and impacted a gazebo. The wreckage came to rest partially outside of the small building, on the deck of the main pool, and inside of the main pool. Part of the fuselage, the engine, and the inboard right wing were submerged in the main pool.

From the pine tree to the parking lot propeller ground scars, it is about 200 feet on a heading of about 300°. From the parking lot propeller grounds scars, travelling through the small building to the main pool deck, it is about 90 feet on a heading of about 325°. Figure 3 below shows an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) view of the impact path from the pine tree terminating at the main pool.

Figure 3 - UAS view of the impact path (courtesy of Touchstone District Services, in partnership with the Harris County, Texas Emergency Services District #48).

The wreckage that was submerged in the main pool was recovered as shown in figure 4 below. During the examination of the airframe onsite, no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures were noted with the airframe. The wreckage was recovered and transported to a secure facility for a future examination of the airframe and engine.

Figure 4 - View of the recovered wreckage from the main pool (courtesy of the NTSB).

A certificated flight instructor (CFI) employed with the West Houston Airport and a student pilot flew the airplane on the morning of the accident for 1.6 hours. The CFI reported that flight operations in the IWS traffic pattern were conducted and he reported no mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airframe and engine.

The four-seat capacity airplane, serial number 172S0915, was manufactured in 2009. The airplane had a Garmin G1000 system installed in the cockpit. The Garmin G1000 is an integrated flight instrument system that consists of two display units, with one serving as a primary flight display and one as a multi-function display. The airplane was equipped with a Lycoming IO-360-L2A engine, serial number L-32101-51E. A review of the airplane's maintenance records revealed no evidence of any uncorrected mechanical discrepancies with the airframe, engine, and propeller.

The West Houston Airport is a privately owned, public use airport that has a 14 CFR Part 61 flight school. In addition to the accident airplane, another Cessna 172S airplane and a Cessna R-182RG airplane are available as rental airplanes for customers.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N517LA
Model/Series: 172 S
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: West Houston Airport
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KTME, 168 ft msl
Observation Time: 1535 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 9 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C / 24°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 7 knots / 13 knots, 320°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.8 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Houston, TX (IWS)
Destination: Houston, TX (IWS)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: On-Ground
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 29.775000, -95.721944 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Pilot Noshir Medhora

Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP (N517LA)

HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Part of a Katy neighborhood is still blocked off Saturday evening as the FAA investigates a plane crash that killed a man from Houston. 

A Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP crashed in the 20200 block of Kingsland Boulevard in Katy on Saturday around 10:30 a.m. One person is dead. Both the building and the plane were fully engulfed in flames.

The plane took off from West Houston airport. Medhora hadn't been in the air long before he realized something was wrong and tried to get to safety. He called the airport and tried to turn around to go back but crashed. Troopers say he called the airport, but they don’t know what he said, or if he made a distress call before he crashed into this Katy neighborhood.

“I hear the noise, first I hear the crash in the trees," said Carmen Maca, who lives nearby. "At first I thought it was here in my driveway because it was so close."

The seat and fuselage landed in the pool, creating a wide debris field.

The plane crashed into a building and remnants of the aircraft also flew into a nearby community pool. DPS confirms that a wedding was planned for the club house on Saturday, meaning the pool was empty and no one was injured. 

Had this happened 30 minutes later, this story may have been very different.

“We were very very fortunate that the pool was not occupied. My understanding is the pool opens at 11 and this occurred at 10:30,"   said Harris County Precinct 5 Constable Ted Heap.

Troopers call the sad but low death toll, a miracle.

Federal Aviation Administration and Texas DPS Southeast will be leading the investigation, with the Harris County Fire Marshal Office and HAZMAT will be assisting. 

Earlier on Saturday there were concerns that chemicals inside that building might have been spread by the water used to put out the fire. But at this point, we’ve been told everything is contained and the community at large is safe.

Story and video ➤

HOUSTON - The pilot who was killed when a Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP plane crashed into a community center in Katy has been identified, according to the Harris County Precinct 5 Constable's Office. 

The pilot has been identified as 69-year-old Noshir Medhora.

The incident happened around 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the community center in the Nottingham Country neighborhood off Kingsland Boulevard and Houghton Road. 

"The debris field stems from the back of that building where a large portion of the plane extended in the water and that whole playground area,” said Pct 5 Constable Ted Heap.

Home surveillance video captured the moment the plane crashed into the community pool. 

A photo taken by a witness showed flames shooting from a building at the center next to the pool, as well as fiery wreckage in the swimming pool. 

Emergency personnel can be seen in the image.

Deputy constables said a wedding was scheduled Saturday at the center but that no one was there at the time of the crash.

No one else was injured, according to deputies.

Officials are asking anyone with video of the incident to give it to DPS.

There is no word on what led to the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Texas Department of Public Safety are handling the investigation.

Story and video ➤

Pilot Noshir Medhora

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- A pilot is dead after a Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP plane crashed into a community center building in west Harris County Saturday morning.

It happened at the Mason Creek Community Center, located at 20201 Kingsland Blvd. near Houghton Rd. around 10:30 a.m.

Noshir Medhora, 69, was identified by DPS as the pilot who died in the crash.

Harris County Precinct 5 Constable Ted Heap says the Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP lost altitude and crashed into the community center's pool maintenance building and burst into flames.

He says no one was in the pool at the time of the crash, though debris flew into the building upon impact.

Heap says people were also in the clubhouse next door preparing for a wedding, but no injuries were reported.

The plane took off from West Houston Airport Saturday and wasn't in the air for long, Heap says.

DPS says Medhora was the only person on the plane.

Multiple residents in the area reported seeing the plane up in flames and posted pictures onto social media.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are continuing their investigation.

We have learned Medhora was born and raised in India before coming to the U.S. in 1973. He was living on Houston's northside since 1975.

He received his Master's degree in mechanical engineering from Berkeley in 1975.

Medhora is survived by his wife and two children.

Story and video ➤


  1. Chilling video...cruel reminder that the strongest of the "four forces" is gravity!

  2. Gravity is actually the weakest of the four forces but yes, it always wins.

  3. But that airplane looks like it hit at over 100 mph. Heart attack??