Friday, November 05, 2021

Cessna 172A Skyhawk, N172XX: Accident occurred November 04, 2021 near Dekalb-Peachtree Airport (KPDK), Chamblee, DeKalb County, Georgia

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; Atlanta, Georgia

Location: Decatur, Georgia
Accident Number: ERA22LA045
Date and Time: November 4, 2021, 09:47 Local
Registration: N172XX
Aircraft: Cessna 172 
Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Instructional

On November 4, 2021, about 0947 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172A, N172XX, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Decatur, Georgia. The student pilot sustained minor injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight.

The student pilot stated that the flight departed Dekalb-Peachtree Airport (PDK), Atlanta, Georgia. While flying at 1,500 ft mean sea level he noted that the engine began running rough, which was followed by a total loss of engine power. The student pilot pitched the airplane for best glide airspeed and declared an emergency with air traffic control. He subsequently attempted a forced landing to a
four-lane road; however, the airplane stuck powerlines, and came to rest inverted on the road. The accident site was located about 5 nautical miles south-southwest of PDK.

Initial examination of the airplane revealed the bottom of the fuselage exterior was coated in oil from the engine compartment to the tailcone and a hole was observed in the crankcase above the No. 6 cylinder.

The engine was removed from the airframe for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna 
Registration: N172XX
Model/Series: 172A
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
Operator: On file
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: KPDK,998 ft msl 
Observation Time: 09:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 7°C /6°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 900 ft AGL
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / , 40°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 3100 ft AGL
Visibility: 5 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.26 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Atlanta, GA (PDK)
Destination: Perry, GA (PXE)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor 
Latitude, Longitude: 33.793803,-84.277894 

Pilot Brandon Roberts

The pilot who survived Thursday's plane crash in DeKalb County told CBS46 about the experience.

Brandon Roberts was the only person on board the Cessna 172A Skyhawk when it crashed on North Decatur Road near DeKalb Industrial Way around 9:45 a.m. Thursday.

"The engine quit and I flew it to the best place I could find without people and I had to tail it into the power lines to keep from crashing into buildings or anything so I’m still here, must have done something right, nowhere else to put it," he said. 

He has scratches on his face and hands and was shaken up, but was able to walk out of the plane on his own.

It happened shortly after he had taken off from PDK Airport in Chamblee heading home to Perry. He had been in metro Atlanta for business.

"Just taken off and climbing out and the engine started losing power already as I was turning back and it quit," he said. 

He radioed a mayday call to air traffic control and he looked for a place to land the plane.

"That’s what we’re supposed to do is look for suitable landing right when something starts happening, not after it's happened," Roberts said. "Four lane road with no traffic and I got closer and realized there are power lines, I can't, and just stalled it, let it fall into the power lines and let me down easy.”

The plane landed upside down and witnesses were amazed to see him walk out seemingly uninjured.

Caleb Rogers, who heard the plane hit the power lines and then saw Roberts emerge, said, "It's definitely crazy, it's definitely crazy, not something you see every day but I’m just glad to know he’s safe because it could have went a lot worse.”

Roberts said he has been flying since he was young and this won't stop him.

"Just another day. I’ll get another one and do it again," he said. "I’m not going to stop flying.”

The plane was towed away once the National Transportation Safety Board completed its initial review.

DeKalb County is providing assistance to residents of Coventry Place senior living center which is in the middle of the scene. The plane crashed right in front of their building. Diesel fuel will be provided for the facility’s generator along with meals and backup oxygen for residents. 

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