Saturday, December 28, 2019

Cessna 172M, N254RA: Accident occurred December 21, 2018 near Abilene Regional Airport (KABI), Texas

Aircraft Damage to Left Wing.

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

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Abilene, TX
Accident Number: CEN19LA070
Date & Time: 12/21/2018, 1145 CST
Registration: N254RA
Aircraft: Cessna 172
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Miscellaneous/other
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Aerial Observation 

On December 21, 2018, about 1145 central standard time, a Cessna 172M, N254RA, registered and operated by Reynolds Aviation, Beach City, Texas, sustained substantial damage when it collided with a tower wire about 10 miles south of the Abilene Regional Airport (AB), Abilene, Texas. The commercial pilot, who was the sole occupant, was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed. The pipeline aerial observation flight was being conducted under the provisions of Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight originated about 1000 from the Draughon-Miller Central Texas Regional Airport (TPL), Temple, Texas, and was enroute to the Winston Field Airport (SNK), Snyder, Texas.

The pilot stated that he was conducting an aerial pipeline inspection. He stated that he was looking down in the cockpit, writing down pipeline observation information. At the same time, he felt a pull to the left. The airplane struck a tower wire. The pilot stated that he did not see the tower wires. The pilot was able to control the airplane, immediately declared an emergency, and landed the airplane at ABI, which was about 10 miles north of the wire strike. Inspection of the airplane revealed a 4-foot section of the left wing was torn off the airplane, just outboard of the left aileron.

Figure 1. Overhead Image of Pipeline Route and Tower/Wire Locations

The pilot stated in NTSB Form 6120, that many pipeline patrol operations have an observer on board in addition to the pilot, one writing down information, and one looking outside the airplane. He also stated that he could have waited to write down information after passing the tower area. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 39, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 12/18/2018
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 11/20/2018
Flight Time: 2919 hours (Total, all aircraft), 2419 hours (Total, this make and model), 2860 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 179 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 48 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N254RA
Model/Series: 172M
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1975
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate:
Serial Number: 17265910
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 11/09/2018, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2299 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 60 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 2734 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-320 SERIES
Registered Owner: Reynolds Darryl G
Rated Power: 150 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: , 1751 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1117 CST
Direction from Accident Site: 150°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 13 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 200°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 14°C / -5°C
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point: Temple, TX (TPL)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Snyder, TX (SNK)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1000 CST
Type of Airspace: Class E

Airport Information

Airport: Abilene Regional Airport (ABI)
Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 1791 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: Full Stop; Precautionary Landing

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 32.260000, -99.566389


  1. Wow, good thing that didn't turn into something serious...

  2. Four feet of wing gone.
    Landed safely, no one injured.
    That is a true testament to the reliability of Cessna aircraft.

  3. Flying this airplane to a safe landing with 4 feet of wing missing ? Amazing and good on him for getting himself out of a sticky situation that he also got himself into. I'd reckon he'll be bringing someone else with him to do the pipeline observations and recording next time, however. Pulling this kind of thing off once is probably enough for most people.

  4. I want to see a documentary on this one, as I want to know what the pilot experienced as he limped this bird to the airport. Seriously? Flying with 25% of wing completely missing, and manages to land safely? This is truly remarkable. Reminds me of the WWII bombers shot to pieces and still flying.

  5. Wasn't there an Israeli F-15 that landed safely after losing a wing in a collision?

  6. "Wasn't there an Israeli F-15 that landed safely after losing a wing in a collision?"

    Yep, and the photos and YT videos are still out there of it. It was during a mock Top Gun type of aerial dog fight excercise with A-4s. It hit an A-4 and that pilot ejected. The thing that saved that F-15 was its design: body lift and two vertical stabilizers and rudders. The pilot landed at twice the speed of a typical touch down of 125-135 knots depending of course on model and weight over the typical F-15 landing (that Israeli model was a 2-seat D model). He didn't blow the main gear tires either which was a testament to the tire maker over-engineering speed ratings, and the maintenance crew keeping the tires maintained. It was a classic example of body lift which NASA experimented with in the 1960s and 1970s prior to the Shuttle program which it also used.

  7. If I remember right the F-15 pilot did not realize entire wing was gone and Said if he had he would have ejected.

  8. This Cessna belongs in a museum.

  9. That "Israeli F-15 one wing landing 1983" story that was originally floated around 2004 provides many laughs as one of the greatest internet echo chamber hoaxes (still going!) of all time, despite plenty of red flags in the various telling of the tale. So much copy and paste, year after year. The story is echoed everywhere, except no original source of any factual quality can be found from the alleged time period when it occurred. Just some photos and a passed around story. History channel's faked flight video depicting one-wing flying sealed the deal - some people even think it is recorded from the alleged event.

    The boldest claims include the alleged pilot's spoken account of post-impact spin (not roll?) while pitched 30 degrees downward that was corrected by afterburner, then flying normal enough to have wing man pull up alongside but wing man can't see wing is gone because huge fuel spray is squirting out so far in the slipstream from the raggedy tear-off remnant that it is somehow hiding several feet of missing wing from view, and hey, pilot never would have known the wing was missing anyway because he had it under normal control. No warning lights, even with all those 1553-bus weapon mount connections torn away, sure, you bet!

    This Cessna pilot's full story would be a good read. You can bet he would not claim that there was no way to tell something was up after the initial hit. True pilot skill in his case.