Friday, November 26, 2021

Low Altitude Operation/Event: Cessna 172P Skyhawk, N51547; accident occurred August 29, 2021 in Wenatchee, Chelan County, Washington

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; Spokane, Washington

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Galvin Flight Training
Location: Wenatchee, Washington
Accident Number: WPR21LA332
Date and Time: August 29, 2021, 16:00 Local 
Registration: N51547
Aircraft: Cessna 172P
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Low altitude operation/event 
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Instructional


The flight instructor reported that, while conducting mountain flying training, and using roads as a primary means of navigation, the pilot rated student made a wrong turn due to smoke/haze and entered an area where the airplane could not out climb terrain. The flight instructor assumed control of the airplane which subsequently collided with vegetation (trees). The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings and fuselage. The pilot reported that there were no pre-accident mechanical failures or malfunctions with 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 student pilot’s inadequate inflight navigation and the flight instructors delayed remedial action which resulted in a collision with trees.


Personnel issues Flight planning/navigation - Student/instructed pilot
Personnel issues Monitoring environment - Instructor/check pilot
Personnel issues Delayed action - Instructor/check pilot
Environmental issues Mountainous/hilly terrain - Effect on equipment

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying Low altitude operation/event (Defining event)

Flight instructor Information

Certificate: Airline transport; Flight instructor 
Age: 81, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land; Single-engine sea; Multi-engine land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane 
Second Pilot Present:
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane multi-engine; Airplane single-engine; Instrument airplane
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification: BasicMed 
Last FAA Medical Exam: December 15, 2020
Occupational Pilot: Yes 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: September 21, 2020
Flight Time: (Estimated) 16550 hours (Total, all aircraft), 2000 hours (Total, this make and model), 15900 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 33 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 15 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Student pilot Information

Certificate: Private Age: 28, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): 
Second Pilot Present:
Instructor Rating(s): 
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: November 8, 2019
Occupational Pilot: No Last Flight Review or Equivalent: June 5, 2020
Flight Time: (Estimated) 119 hours (Total, all aircraft), 119 hours (Total, this make and model), 62 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 9.1 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 2 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N51547
Model/Series: 172P
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1980 
Amateur Built:
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal; Utility
Serial Number: 17274318
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: June 17, 2021 100 hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2400 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 24 Hrs
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3545.2 Hrs
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: C91 installed, activated 
Engine Model/Series: O-320
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: KEAT,1229 ft msl 
Distance from Accident Site: 11 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 16:55 Local 
Direction from Accident Site: 52°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility: 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 7 knots / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 110° 
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.79 inches Hg 
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C / 8°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Wenatchee, WA (KEAT)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: VFR
Destination: Seattle, WA (KBFI) 
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 16:00 Local
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 47.287778,-120.40766 (est)

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