Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Loss of Control in Flight: Cessna 170, N170RH; accident occurred February 16, 2020 near High Point Airport (3KS5), Valley Center, Sedgwick County, Kansas

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Wichita, Kansas

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Location: Valley Center, KS
Accident Number: CEN20TA088
Date & Time: 02/16/2020, 1502 CST
Registration: N170RH
Aircraft: Cessna 170
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Minor, 3 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

Factual Information

On February 16, 2020, about 1502 central standard time, a Cessna 170 airplane, N170RH, impacted terrain during takeoff from runway 17 at the High Point Airport (3KS5), near Valley Center, Kansas. The airline transport pilot sustained minor injuries and the three passengers were uninjured. The fuselage was substantially damaged during the impact. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area about the time of the accident, and the flight was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight was originating from 3KS5 at the time of the accident.

The pilot reported that he was taking off when the accident occurred. He conducted a preflight inspection of the airplane, and also determined the weight and balance of the airplane was within the airframe manufacturer's limits. He estimated that the takeoff ground run distance was about 1,400 ft, which was about 70% more than the owner's manual performance value for a normal takeoff with no wind using a level, paved runway. He walked some of the takeoff area and determined the grass runway was "wet, but a solid surface." The windsock indicated about 8 knots at 160°. With over 2,200 ft of runway available and a slight downhill gradient, he deemed the available runway length to be adequate. He held the brakes letting the airplane reach maximum power before he released the brakes.

The pilot reported that the aircraft was indicating 60+ mph with about 500 feet of runway left when he considered aborting the takeoff, but determined that was not safe due to the road that ran perpendicular to the end of the runway. He continued to accelerate and rotated at the end of the runway. The aircraft abruptly pitched up and the pilot lowered the nose. The aircraft began sinking and was not accelerating. the pilot determined the best course of action would be to land straight ahead in an open field. After touchdown the aircraft's right side spring landing gear broke and the spring leg dug into the ground. The airplane subsequently rotated, and the fuselage sustained substantial damage.

The pilot indicated that there were no mechanical malfunctions with the airplane during the takeoff, and that the airplane had accelerated normally.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport; Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 44, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Unmanned (sUAS)
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 10/22/2019
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 05/16/2019
Flight Time:  6200 hours (Total, all aircraft), 8 hours (Total, this make and model), 5000 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 84 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 21 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N170RH
Model/Series: 170 Undesignated
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1947
Amateur Built:No 
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 18030
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 12/09/2019, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2200 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3593.6 Hours
Engine Manufacturer: Continental
ELT: C91A installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: C145
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 145 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: KAAO, 1421 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1454 CST
Direction from Accident Site: 133°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 7 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: Wind Direction: 180°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting: 29.91 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 13°C / 4°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Valley Center, KS (3KS5)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Valley Center, KS (3KS5)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1502 CST
Type of Airspace: Airport Information
Airport: HIGH POINT (3KS5)
Runway Surface Type: Grass/turf
Airport Elevation: 1395 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Soft
Runway Used: 17
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 2400 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 3 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor, 3 None
Latitude, Longitude: 37.842778, -97.351389 (est)


  1. Glad to hear folks will be alright. I'm always sad to see a glorious antique aircraft severely damaged or scrapped. Numbers are dwindling.

    1. That's exactly what I was thinking! I scrolled down through the photos' one hurt even better!

  2. ATP and Instructor? They need a better handle on the concept of rejected takeoff. Was he just "hoping" there was going to be room?