Saturday, June 12, 2021

Hard Landing: Cessna 172N Skyhawk, N738VY; accident occurred June 12, 2020 at Reedsburg Municipal Airport (C35), Sauk County, Wisconsin

Aviation Accident Final 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; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:


Location: Reedsburg, Wisconsin 
Accident Number: CEN20CA257
Date & Time: June 12, 2020, 16:00 Local 
Registration: N738VY
Aircraft: Cessna 172 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Hard landing
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Instructional


The student pilot was conducting his third solo flight. He took off for a short local flight and subsequently returned to the departure airport to land. During the final approach, the student pilot stated he set 30° of flaps and was "carrying a little more airspeed than he likely should have." As he leveled out over the runway, the nose dropped before he began to flare, and the airplane began to porpoise. After three hard bounces, he was able to settle the airplane onto the runway. He taxied the airplane back to the hangar and noticed that the airplane had sustained substantial damage to the firewall and forward fuselage. The student pilot reported there were no mechanical anomalies with the airplane that would have precludded normal operation.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The student pilot's improper landing flare, which resulted a hard, bounced landing.


Personnel issues Aircraft control - Student/instructed pilot
Aircraft Landing flare - Not attained/maintained

Factual Information

History of Flight

Landing Hard landing (Defining event)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Student
Age: 24,Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): None 
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None 
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: August 7, 2019
Occupational Pilot: No 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: (Estimated) 80 hours (Total, all aircraft), 70 hours (Total, this make and model), 10 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 30 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 19 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N738VY
Model/Series: 172 N 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1978 
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 17270283
Landing Gear Type: 
Tricycle Seats: 4
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-H2AD
Registered Owner:
Rated Power: 160 Horsepower
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC) 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KDLL,976 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 9 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 20:55 Local 
Direction from Accident Site: 93°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 15 knots / 18 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:  /
Wind Direction: 60° 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:  /
Altimeter Setting: 30.22 inches Hg 
Temperature/Dew Point: 22°C / 14°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Reedsburg, WI (C35)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Reedsburg, WI (C35) 
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 15:00 Local
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 906 ft msl
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 36 
IFR Approach: None 
Runway Length/Width: 4840 ft / 75 ft VFR 
Approach/Landing: Traffic pattern

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 43.528888,-89.983055(est)


  1. 80 hours and only on third solo?

    1. Total red flag on that. A healthy 24yr old should have passed a PP check ride by the 80hr mark.

  2. My SOP is to go around on the first bounce. I've only porpoised once (in a new to me aircraft), and I immediately went to full power. Bounced once again (even with full power), then climbed out back to the pattern. No issues the second time. Root cause was an inadequate flair. A go around was the right call and would have likely saved this aircraft assuming the next landing was done properly.