Saturday, January 08, 2022

Cessna 172G Skyhawk, N3964L: Accident occurred January 08, 2022 in Youngstown, Mahoning County, Ohio

National Transportation Safety Board accident number: CEN22LA098

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Cleveland, Ohio 

Aircraft experienced engine issues and crashed into trees. 

AirHorse Aviation LLC 

Date: 08-JAN-22
Time: 20:40:00Z
Regis#: N3964L
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 172
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: OTHER
Flight Phase: APPROACH (APR)
Operation: 91
State: OHIO

LIBERTY — A pilot averted catastrophe Saturday, crash landing his plane in a wooded area just north of Lansdowne Airport without injuring himself or two family members.

“I’m both happy and sad,” pilot Christopher T. Tornello of Liberty said less than two hours after the crash. “I’m sad about the plane and happy no one got a scratch on them. I’ve never had this happen before.”

Tornello, 65, has had his pilot’s license since 1981, according to his wife, Roberta Tornello, who also is a pilot. She had a headache and decided to visit a friend instead of going on the flight with her daughter, Melissa Fike of Cortland, and her 8-year-old granddaughter, Ida Kay Fike.

Roberta Tornello said her husband was going in for a downwind landing at Lansdowne Airport, 2008 Lansdowne Blvd., about 3:30 p.m. Saturday when the engine of the Cessna 172G began to sputter.

“He was only 500, 600 feet above ground,” she said. “That’s the worst time for the engine to go out. There’s not enough speed or height to get it to the runway.”

The aircraft crashed into a wooded area just north of Homestead Road. From photos provided by Tornello’s wife and those posted by Fike on social media, the plane was suspended in the trees and had visible exterior damage.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol in Southington said the accident is under investigation.

The aircraft just had its annual inspection, Roberta Tornello said, and no issues were detected at the time. This was the plane’s second flight since the inspection.

Her daughter took video on her phone of her father landing the plane in the trees and immediately called her mother.

“She said they were OK physically,” Roberta Tornello said. “Mentally might take a little time.”

Christopher Tornello said, “I did what I was trained to do. I thank God it was enough to keep everyone safe. It’s the happiest ending in that way.”


A passenger involved in a plane crash that happened earlier this evening spoke with 21 News to detail the accident.

Melissa Fike was flying as a passenger in her father's 172 Cessna plane when the engine began cutting in and out. 

Fike's 8 year old daughter was also riding in the backseat. 

Fike's father has been a pilot since 1981, and the plane was just recently inspected by a mechanic. 

Fike says her father is an excellent pilot. 

Around 3:36 p.m., Liberty dispatch received a call and arrived to the accident shortly after. 

Ohio State Patrol officers are now handling the crash and Liberty first responders have since left the scene.

Fike, her daughter and her father are all safe. 

LIBERTY, Ohio (WKBN) — A plane crashed in Liberty on Saturday, January 8.

The Cessna 172G plane crashed into a tree on Homestead Road. The call came in just after 3:30 p.m.

The caller told dispatchers the plane crashed around 50 yards away from his backyard and he heard people talking.

Liberty police and fire as well as the Ohio State Highway Patrol were on the scene.

OSHP said there were no injuries. Christopher Tornello, 65, was piloting the plane and 43-year-old Melissa Fike and a juvenile were passengers.

The pilot lives in Liberty and was trying to land the plane at Lansdowne Airport when the plane lost power, according to OSHP.

Officials are still trying to determine the cause of the crash. Liberty crews had to use a ladder to get the pilot off the plane.

Liberty Fire Chief Douglas Theobald said the crash was due to an apparent mechanical issue or engine failure.


  1. Replies
    1. Trying to nurse it back to Lansdowne Airport 04G, didn't drop onto Youngstown/Warren Regional Airport KYNG that was right there on the way back as he passed by it. Always take the closest airport!

  2. Looks like a classic Carburetor icing to me. Conditions right for this.