Sunday, July 25, 2021

Loss of Control on Ground: Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP, N999MA; accident occurred May 22, 2021 at McAllen International Airport (KMFE), Hidalgo County, Texas

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; San Antonio, Texas

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

McCreery Aviation Co Inc

Location: McAllen, Texas
Accident Number: CEN21LA235
Date & Time: May 22, 2021, 13:40 Local 
Registration: N999MA
Aircraft: Cessna 172 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control on ground Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Instructional


The solo student pilot reported he was making his third landing when the airplane bounced, exited the runway, and collided with a runway sign. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and left horizontal stabilizer. The student pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions 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 student pilot’s failure to maintain directional control during landing, which resulted in a runway excursion and collision with a runway sign.


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

Factual Information

History of Flight

Landing Abnormal runway contact
Landing-landing roll Loss of control on ground (Defining event)
Landing-landing roll Runway excursion
Landing-landing roll Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Pilot Information

Certificate: Student 
Age: 40, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None 
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None 
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): None 
Second Pilot Present:
Instructor Rating(s): None 
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification: Class 1 With waivers/limitations 
Last FAA Medical Exam: January 5, 2021
Occupational Pilot: No 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 38 hours (Total, all aircraft), 38 hours (Total, this make and model), 4 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna 
Registration: N999MA
Model/Series: 172 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2004 
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal 
Serial Number: 172S9812
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: Unknown
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2550 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: IO360
Registered Owner: 
Rated Power: 180
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC)
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KMFE,100 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Observation Time:
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Lowest Ceiling: 
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:  /
Wind Direction: 150°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:  /
Altimeter Setting: 30.04 inches Hg 
Temperature/Dew Point: 30°C / 20°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: McAllen, TX
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: McAllen, TX
Type of Clearance: VFR
Departure Time: 
Type of Airspace: Class D

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 107 ft msl
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 14/32
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 7120 ft / 150 ft 
VFR Approach/Landing: Touch and go

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor 
Latitude, Longitude: 26.175541,-98.237432 (est)


  1. Seems like instructors are rushing their students through training. An instructor friend told me that he sees a lot of students that can land on the first try but don't know why the aircraft landed. They learn to "fly" on PC based flight simulators but don't have any real knowledge.

    1. Sadly, even the simple joy of flying a 39 cent balsa glider with the wing stuck through the slot in the fuselage is something recent generations have never experienced. Seeing how the glider reacted to having the wing moved forward or aft in the slot gave generations of kids a basic understanding of flight principles.

      Video games replaced going outside and experiencing the laws of physics firsthand for too many kids. The result for them is as your instructor friend describes.

      Even if they get the feel for landings, when it is their turn to check elevator trim tab function, a mis-rigged tab that deflects upwards in response to nose up trim switch input will seem correct to them, for they won't know how the tab does it's job even after they earn their ticket.

      Similarly, the delayed in-cockpit weather displays they use to thread through bad weather will lure many to their deaths every year as game-trained pilots take to the sky.

    2. ^^The wind up rubber band ones were the best. You learned how to bend the rudder to counter the torque not having a clue why you were doing it to make it fly straight. Actually I learned that just from making sure arrow vanes were straight and true. Same with a paper airplane, especially making more complex ones. "

      I once had a flight instructor during an annual check tell me he hates taking on new students who brag they "learned" how to fly on X-Plane or MS Flight Simulator. He said he basically has to teach them to unlearn bad lazy habits (not learning basic rudder coordination and assuming the plane doesn't need much coordination because the flight sim didn't replicate it well around dutch roll and yaw).