Friday, October 29, 2021

Cessna 172M Skyhawk, N1870V: Fatal accident occurred October 28, 2021 at Ukiah Municipal Airport (KUKI), Mendocino 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 traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Oakland, California
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas

Mike Smith Aviation

Location: Ukiah, California
Accident Number: WPR22FA022
Date and Time: October 28, 2021, 13:11 Local 
Registration: N1870V
Aircraft: Cessna 172 
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Instructional

On October 28, 2021, about 1311, a Cessna 172M, N1870V, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident in Ukiah, California. The student pilot, who was the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight.

The pilot was flying his second solo cross-country flight and had planned for a full stop landing at Ukiah Municipal Airport. According to preliminary FAA ADS-B data, the airplane departed Napa County Airport at 1219, and flew a direct course to Ukiah, arriving in the traffic pattern at 1308.

About 1310, witnesses located on the west side of the airport observed a white high-wing airplane touch down on Runway 15, and then apply engine power as if performing a touch-and-go. They watched the airplane climb, and a security camera located about midfield on the same side of the runway, captured the airplane during that initial climb phase. The video revealed that the airplane leveled off after climbing to about 50 ft above ground level, while still tracking over the runway. After reaching midfield, the airplane appeared to pitch down and descend, and its nose struck the ground. The nosewheel separated, and the airplane continued to travel along the runway, until it passed out of the cameras field of view behind a building.

The airplane came to rest inverted on a grass verge adjacent to a diagonal taxiway on the right side of the runway. The airframe sustained minimal damage, limited to the vertical stabilizer, rudder, leading edge tip of the left wing, and the windshield, which had shattered. The propeller exhibited evidence of runway contact including tip curl and multi-directional gouges and scratches.

Examination of the runway surface revealed a tire skid mark, and a fresh gouge on the centerline, about two thirds of the way down the 4,423-ft-long runway. The gouge matched the shape of the nose wheel rim which had separated along with its fork and was recovered 350 ft downrange. From the initial impact point, a scrape mark, along with 20 slash-shaped gouges that appeared to match the propeller blade tips, continued 700 ft, progressively moving to the right of the runway centerline, and ending at the main wreckage.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N1870V
Model/Series: 172M
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
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: KUKI,626 ft msl
Observation Time: 12:56 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 22°C /12°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 3 knots / , 310°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.15 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Napa Municipal, CA (APC)
Destination: Ukiah, CA

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 39.122619,-123.2004 

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290. 
Todd Michael Parsons

Mendocino County on Friday released the name of a man who died when a plane flight originating at Napa County Airport ended in a crash at Ukiah Municipal Airport.

The deceased pilot is Todd Michael Parsons, 43, of Redwood City according to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Coroner's Division. He was the only person onboard the  Cessna 172M Skyhawk.

The crash was reported at 1:14 p.m. Thursday. Eyewitnesses told MendoFever, a local news website, that a tire that was part of the landing gear broke off the plane, causing it to flip.

The plane departed Napa County Airport at 12:19 p.m. Thursday.

The City of Ukiah in a statement released this evening has confirmed that single-engine aircraft that crashed today at the Ukiah Municipal Airport resulted in the death of the pilot.

The Ukiah Police Department, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the Federal Aviation Administration are currently investigating the crash.

A Ukiah resident who lives near the Ukiah Municipal Airport told us around 1:00 p.m. the plane was taking off and was going nearly take-off speeds when the crash occurred.

The flight plan as documented by shows that the plane was landing rather than taking off as the eyewitness believed.

The eyewitness went on to say that the plane was on the runway when some sort of malfunction took place. One of the tires associated with the landing gear reportedly broke off the aircraft which “caused the plane to flip,” the eyewitness said

It’s worth noting that the landing gear underneath the plane’s nose is visually damaged in photographs taken of the scene. Also, where there should be a tire, there is none.

The plane’s path deviated as a result of the malfunction and it veered off the runway and struck a patch of earth. The eyewitness described the plane flipping over when it struck dirt. Nearby residents climbed the airport’s perimeter fence in hopes of assisting the pilot but said the pilot appeared deceased by the time they got there.

The plane originated from Napa Valley, as per flight records documented by, and its make and model is a Cessna 172 M Skyhawk.

The plane’s tail number N1870V is associated with a flight school in Napa County called Mike Smith Aviation. We spoke with Mike Smith himself who confirmed that one of his planes was the craft that crashed today. He said NTSB is actively investigating and could not comment further at this time.


  1. Replies
    1. Please cite valid source. You posted no information to go on.


    3. Gbear's link to the airmen registry is where you go to enter Todd Michael Parsons in the name fields to find the pilot's cert info.

      The registry look up does not provide for direct linking to a pilot, which is why pilot cert info is often copied and pasted into these comments, as was done already in the original post.

      Bookmark the registry link and you will be able to look up any pilot.

    4. I know how to use the look-up. Used it for years. Guess I didn't see the updated info with name.
      The link needs to be posted like....
      Enter in name field.. Parsons, Todd, Michael to have it handy.


    5. BTW, You can't look up "any" pilot. Mine is limited and only comes up with my cert#.

    6. You can look up any pilot, but like any data system, might not find 'em. If a pilot not showing up in the results while looking is not just due to database error, lots of pilots would be interested in learning how to get their info moved into the "limited" status, since that would be much more effective than simple address opt-out.

  2. I wonder if this airplane had shoulder harnesses?

    1. Probably not. I trained in a 172M (same model as accident plane I believe) a few years back and it only had a lap seat belt.

    2. Should be MANDATORY for flight schools.

    3. The aircraft had shoulder harnesses.

      Photo of N1870V on approach to Buchanan Field Airport taken September 2021 clearly shows pilot's shoulder belt:

    4. My aero club's school at a USAF base had M, N, and P model 172s. We actually had one of the last P models made in 1986 when Cessna stopped making them for many years thanks to frivolous family lawsuits even though crashes were mostly pilot error/stupidity (we constantly see those stories continuing here on KR).

      Those Skyhawks at our club all had shoulder harnesses tucked up above the door to use. That was three decades ago and I don't remember the specifics, but either the harnesses were an option when ordering the plane or were available as a retrofit from a Cessna authorized MRO facility. I believe the P model had it from the factory standard.

      An interesting footnote of the M model is that it was the first that Cessna dropped the 172 reference for marketing and exclusively used the Skyhawk name during the 1976 model year. Also the Skyhawk II moniker was used with an avionics package upgrade to dual Nav-Comms, an ADF, and a transponder (hard to believe GA aircraft in the 1970s were not required to have transponders). Cessna did the same for the 182 Skylane just referencing Skylane.

    5. It would be required to have harnesses in that aircraft by regulation and law. Mike Smith Aviation is a reputable school and their aircraft would all be legal and safe. I have decades of experience in singles to 4-engine jets and I would trust my child to that school.

    6. >>> "It would be required to have harnesses in that aircraft by regulation and law."

      Shoulder harnesses were required in front seats of small aircraft manufactured after July 19, 1978 and for all seats in small airplanes manufactured after December 12, 1986.

      The accident airplane was manufactured 1974. It's great that this aircraft had shoulder belts added, but "regulation and law" imposed the requirement after this one was built.

      All flight training aircraft should be required to have them, but no law or regulation imposes the shoulder restraint requirement on aircraft manufactured before the 1978 date. With decades of experience, you should know this.

  3. Your statement is incongruous."You can look up any pilot, but like any data system, might not find 'em." (You can but you might not) Well, that sounds like you can't look up "any" pilot.
    Here's a simple example. You know the pilots name is David Smith. He doesn't list a middle name or initial on his license so, you're limited to just the first and last name.
    You type in Smith, David, over 50 returns come back, and you're limited to no more than 50 returns and are asked to enter more info. You know he lives in CA, so you type that in. Guess what, he's opted out of listing his address so that "filter" doesn't work. Although some might come up that haven't opted-out of listing their address, it's not the one you're looking for. You don't know his date of birth, or year (which usually doesn't work anyway). So, that doesn't work either. Now, you're limited to having to know his certificate # for the pilot info to come up.
    I don't know how my DPE (who also worked for the FAA at the time) entered it into the system after I took my commercial ck ride but, my info will not come up unless the cert# and last name is entered. I also have my address opted-out.

    1. The Smith example of looking up a pilot but not finding them proves the original statement. Looking up info has always had its limits.

    2. You can download the database and open it in the appropriate software and search it any way you like.

    3. @av8rday
      "You can download the database and open it in the appropriate software and search it any way you like".

      As I said earlier, You can NOT look up "any pilot any way you like".

      Quote from the database download/lookup page:

      "This information does not include airmen certificate number data, nor does it include the records of those airmen who do not want their addresses released. You can also elect to Change the Releasability Status of your Address if you do not want it listed in the database".

      So, if you have your address blocked, you can NOT look it up by address, city, or, state.

    4. The ongoing issue appears to be perception of "look up" which is normally understood to be the act of looking (as in "looking for"), versus whatever success may be achieved after "looking for".

      Now it's perception of "search" versus success after searching.

      Apparently someone thinks "not finding" is somehow proof that you can't "look for"? A not-a-native-english-reader interpretation problem, perhaps?.

      Same person initially posted "Please cite valid source. You posted no information to go on." in response to the very first post that gave the link to the registry, so poor reading comprehension speaks for itself from that beginning.

    5. Wow, I guess this way above your skill level.
      Let's see if I can put it in simple terms for you.

      Dictionary definitions of the two.

      Look up:
      To search for and "FIND" a piece of information in a book or database.

      Look for:
      Is The "HOPE or EXPECTATION" to find or obtain a particular type of person or thing.

      If you READ the original very first post by gretnabear, there is NO mention of any name or other info needed to search with. Just the link to the site and, what they saw when it was looked up. So, without the accompanying info needed, that is a dead end, which matches my original statement of "Please cite valid source. You posted no information to go on." With empty search fields and no accompanying info to go with it, it is not a valid source.
      I see reading retention and understanding are not among your best attributes.
      The original article, when posted, did not have the pilots name mentioned.
      Since you are apparently clairvoyant, "look up" my info.
      Here's the link:

    6. So it was not understanding that the KR text block gets updated as the story develops (which added the pilot name) that was what caused the problem, not a second language issue.

      It's not complicated. Everyone who knows that KR updates the info and how to use the airmen registry lookup understood GBears link and found the name he had looked up by just reading the updated info in the KR text.

      It will be simple for you to review the KR text block next time and see what's new there now that all has been explained. Happy to help you understand, well worth the effort.

  4. Someone who says they were the nephew of the pilot mentioned on a comment thread in the link below that his uncle was supposed to get his license on the day of the accident. It is not clear if this meant the pilot was flying to Ukiah to meet the DPE. The suggesting has been made that the pilot was coming in too fast. The pictures seem to show that the flaps were not lowered. Perhaps he was nervous and forgot his all important checklist.

  5. Wind at the field was two knots at the time.
    KUKI 282010Z AUTO 33002KT 10SM CLR 22/12 A3013

    After seeing the September photo showing that the 172 was shoulder harness equipped, it is difficult to understand the loss of life, considering the relatively light impact damage at the front of the aircraft.

    1. Only takes the wrong bump on the head. Belt and harness may have not been tight enough also. The NTSB will figure that out. RIP

    2. Seat belts only work if they are being utilized......these were not.

  6. The fatality is very puzzling as the cabin is entirely intact and the cowling has little impact damage. It certainly did not compress into the cabin. What in the world happened here to kill someone? RIP to the student pilot and his friends and loved ones.

  7. a cessna discussion group describes "POH for a 1975 Cessna 172M gives the flaps up stall speed, power off at 57 MPH." So what sheared the nosegear? Single point hard landing! ... no apparent skin damage, wonder about firewall damage? If the nosegear was sheared at touchdown of 57 mph, then an abrupt noseover I'd surmise would have created severe whipping force followed by blunt forces.

    1. I'd bet money on a PIO .... not uncommon although this outcome is unusual but not impossible.

  8. A comment left on the Facebook Student Pilots Group by a student from the flight school suggested that the pilot either landed too fast , swerved into soft ground and topped over.. Or that he was going around and retracted flaps too early.. and yes the aircraft all had shoulder harnesses and were very well maintained as per him.

    1. This is why I teach dual in my plane but would never let a student solo in it. They can get checked by another CFI at a school and a rent a plane from there. Just too much liability. The operator lost an aircraft and now he is exposed in the great tort system to accusations of bad maintenance or whatever even if the student pilot seems 100% at fault.

  9. Looking at the pic it is surprising that this was a fatal accident. If the pilot had just the lap belt on he would have been held in the seat even as the plane flipped over onto its back. Perhaps while inverted after the plane stopped he unfastened the seat belt and fell head first onto the roof. (Just speculating). RIP to the pilot.

    1. A lap belt only holds the pelvis in place without any support of the (upper) torso and head. Sudden deceleration allows the head to impact the dashboard, yoke etc. leading to traumatic brain (and neck) injuries as well as aortic tears in the torso just from the shear stress of the sudden movement and without hitting something.
      In aviation as well as in most other things it helps to understand physics and the actual magnitudes of units like force to grasp and envision how molecules and entire bodies move and crash into and act upon each other and in what extremely brief timeframes.
      Be safe out and up there.

  10. Looks like he purpoised it and instead of going around persisted until the front wheel sheared off. Also a wheelbarrow effect that made the plane go off the runway.
    Easy to hit your head onto something and die at those speeds. It is proven even a 25 mph car crash with no seatbelts or shoulder belts is fatal under the right circumstances.

  11. Prayers for the pilot's family.
    So has anyone considered wearing a helmet while flying? The damage of the plane does not appear that substantial but the head trauma can prove to be fatal by the head hitting the instrument panel.
    Some food for thought..

    1. Helmet adds mass to your head, more inertial force acting on your neck when the shoulder belt goes tight while the head is still in motion.

      This aircraft had shoulder belts. If worn correctly, the pilots head would not have hit the panel. Air bags are the answer for head support, but a control yoke big enough to implement that would hide the instruments too much.

    2. AM Safe has a belt with built-in airbag.

    3. The videos on the AM Safe website are impressive. Probably best to wear long sleeves if you had that system so no skin friction as the bag rises rapidly between the arms. A few car bag inflations have been hard on bare arms.

  12. You have a point, however, a lot of the basic shoulder harnesses breaks loose too easily. The other option would be better shoulder harness kits. Y-type, 4-point or 5-point.

  13. Replies
    1. Have to see if the 7 November comment up-thread asserting that safety belt or shoulder harness was not worn is true. The assertion was a reply to your "bump on the head" posting.

  14. Preliminary report didn't include any info on restraint usage.


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