Sunday, July 18, 2021

Hard Landing: Cessna 172M Skyhawk, N1655V; accident occurred July 19, 2020 at Wellington Aero Club Airport (FD38), Palm Beach County, Florida

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office;  Miramar, Florida 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Wellington, Florida
Accident Number: ERA20CA256
Date & Time: July 19, 2020, 11:30 Local
Registration: N1655V
Aircraft: Cessna 172 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Hard landing 
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal


During a local flight, the pilot reported that the wind at the airport was light and variable. After flying a normal traffic pattern, she crossed the runway threshold on final approach and reduced the power to land. Upon touchdown, the airplane “was hit by a strong gust of wind.”  The airplane then pitched up to a “very high nose up attitude.” The stall warning horn activated and the pilot attempted to recover; however, the airplane impacted the runway in a nose low attitude, seriously injuring the pilot and substantially damaging to the forward portion of the airplane’s fuselage. The pilot reported that there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures of the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s inadequate compensation for a wind gust during landing.


Aircraft Pitch control - Not attained/maintained
Personnel issues Aircraft control - Pilot
Environmental issues Gusts - Response/compensation

Factual Information

History of Flight

Landing-flare/touchdown Other weather encounter
Landing-flare/touchdown Hard landing (Defining event)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 36,Female
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land 
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None 
Restraint Used: Unknown
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: March 27, 2019
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: March 27, 2019
Flight Time: 72 hours (Total, all aircraft), 72 hours (Total, this make and model), 30 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N1655V
Model/Series: 172 M 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1974
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 17263704
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: February 11, 2020 Annual 
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2299 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3824 Hrs as of last inspection 
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed 
Engine Model/Series: O-320-E2D
Registered Owner: 
Rated Power: 150 Horsepower
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC) 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KPBI,21 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 11 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 11:53 Local
Direction from Accident Site: 78°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 2500 ft AGL 
Visibility: 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 4900 ft AGL
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 13 knots / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 100°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.04 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C / 25°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Wellington, FL (FD38)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Wellington, FL (FD38)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 10:44 Local
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Airport: Wellington Aero Club A/P FD38 
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 20 ft msl
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 16
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 4055 ft / 75 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Full stop;Traffic pattern

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 26.646667,-80.294998(est)


  1. Sorry folks...that's not a hard landing. That's a crash landing!

  2. If these folks would start their flying activities with gliders, get a hundred hours of solo time (which equates to 400 or so takeoffs and landings), all these very nice aircraft wouldn't be wrecked by pilots who cannot perform even the most basic tasks of operating an airplane.
    Too, the number of fatal crashes caused by takeoff/landing incompetence would be greatly reduced.
    What is it about this problem that the FAA cannot understand?

    1. Learning in gliders has nothing to do with nothing. It's skill. If you can't handle a 172, then you have ZERO business flying. I'm amazed this woman lasted 30 hours on her own as PIC. That tells me she was never really challenged in windy airfield conditions.

  3. I love the way so many of these landing accident reports blame everything on a "sudden gust of wind." If you are a real pilot, you are ready for "sudden gusts of wind," and don't allow the airplane to get away from you when those gusts "suddenly" appear.

  4. Guarantee the “gust of wind” was provided by being way too fast on the approach. She should have had an instructor or at least someone with more experience to point that out and call for a go around.
    Three hours in the past 90 days especially for a low time pilot is asking for trouble.

    1. Yep. She clearly did not have enough experience to be that far between flights. Maybe after several hundred hours, but not at 72 hours. I'd also point to the fact she was flying a 172 which arguably is the easiest and most forgiving 4-seater aircraft to fly out there in GA.

  5. Pilots are so bad these days. She probably would have panicked on some other landing sometime soon anyways.