Thursday, June 03, 2021

Cessna 172G, N3871L: Accident occurred June 02, 2021 in Nevada City, Nevada County, California

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.

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

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

Location: Nevada City, CA 
Accident Number: WPR21LA224
Date & Time: June 2, 2021, 10:00 Local
Registration: N3871L
Aircraft: Cessna 172G
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On June 02, 2021, about 1000 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 172G, N3871L, sustained substantial damage when it was involved in an accident near Nevada City, California. The pilot and the passenger were not injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight.

According to the pilot, the reposition flight was conducted in preparation for the sale of the airplane. The airplane departed Sutter County Airport, in Yuba City, California, with the destination of Reno, Nevada. During the initial climb, about 6,500 ft mean sea level (msl), the pilot noticed that the airplane’s engine oil temperature gauge needle was in the red. He attempted to troubleshoot the anomaly by cycling the carburetor heat and increasing the mixture to rich. Subsequently, he decreased the engine power, which reduced the engine oil temperature below the red line. The adjusted power setting allowed the airplane to continue climbing up to the pilot’s selected altitude of 9,500 ft msl. Nevertheless, about 8,500 ft msl, the pilot heard a change in the engine noise and confirmed a loss of power by watching the engine RPM gradually decrease.

Again, the pilot began to troubleshoot the anomaly by confirming that the fuel selector was in the “Both” position and he adjusted the mixture control. Additionally, he ensured that the carburetor heat was in the off position and he increased the throttle to produce the maximum engine power. Unable to maintain altitude, he declared an emergency and initiated an approach to a clear area within the mountainous terrain. During the approach, the airplane’s right wing struck tree-tops, and the airplane yawed to the right. The airplane touched in a side loaded attitude and the left main landing gear collapsed. On the ground, the airplane continued to rotate in a counterclockwise manner, and came to rest with the nose of the airplane heading 180° opposite the landing direction. The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings and the lower fuselage.

According to the pilot, the airplane was equipped with a Lycoming O-300D reciprocating engine with nearly 1,850 hours of operation. He recalled that two years prior to the accident, getting the engine to start became an issue and the carburetor was replaced. The most recent airplane maintenance conducted was an annual inspection completed December of 2020. 

During the annual, the left and the right engine magnetos were replaced. He reported that the replacement of the magnetos occurred because consistently, an excessive number of attempts were conducted to start the airplane’s engine. He asserted that on many occasions after refueling the airplane, the engine would not restart, and that the battery would have to be recharged as a result of the numerous attempts.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna 
Registration: N3871L
Model/Series: 172G 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KBLU,5283 ft msl
Observation Time: 09:52 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 26°C /5°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 3 knots / , 270°
Lowest Ceiling: 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.18 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Yuba City, CA (O52)
Destination: Reno, NV (RNO)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 39.413003,-120.74969 (est)

Pilot AJ Hyatt and his friend Jerry Jaeger

YUBA CITY (CBS13) – In a story of survival, two men were able to walk away after their plane crashed in rural Nevada County.

The engine of the plane suddenly died as they were headed to Reno. The men spoke with CBS13 about their very close call, which happened Wednesday morning.

At around 7 a.m., AJ Hyatt and his friend Jerry Jaeger were at an airport in Yuba City. Hyatt says he had flown the plane just a day prior and didn’t experience any issues. Both men were still in shock Thursday, astounded how both were able to walk away.

“His piloting was excellent in this situation,” Jaeger said.

Hyatt was too humble to credit his own bravery and skill. While in the air, Hyatt noticed the engine on his plane getting hot.

“Just as we got to 85, the engine gave a kind of burp and Jerry said ‘What the hell,’ ” Hyatt said. “We are both scared spitless because we are over some really bad country.”

Hyatt immediately called traffic control, who instructed him to land at blue canyon about 12 miles away – but he knew that wasn’t possible.

“So we are just going to have to put it somewhere and give up the airplane but survive,” he said.

Knowing options for landing were limited to trees and mountains, the pair spotted a small patch of brush.

“So I said, ‘Jerry, we are going to have to go in,’ ” Hyatt said.

They prayed for the best, keeping their faith as their focus.

“Just as I was just coming, the wing tip on the right side clipped a tree and that slung us around,” Hyatt said.

He believes the tree and brush helped soften their landing by absorbing the impact. Both miraculously were able to walk away and return home to their wives.

“The first thing Jerry said after vegetation settled was ‘Thank you for saving my life, today is my anniversary,’ ” Hyatt said with a laugh. “Of course I was glad to save his life and save my own as well, even though I regretted losing the airplane.”

“Just astounding how well it worked out compared to how it might have been,” Hyatt added.

Hyatt and Jaeger do plan on flying together again. Hyatt hopes to speak with the National Transportation Safety Board to find out why the engine gave out.

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