Saturday, January 08, 2022

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

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; Columbus, Ohio

AirHorse Aviation LLC

Location: Youngstown, Ohio
Accident Number: CEN22LA098
Date and Time: January 8, 2022, 15:30 Local
Registration: N3964L
Aircraft: Cessna 172G 
Injuries: 3 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On January 8, 2022, about 1530 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172G airplane, N3964L, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Youngstown, Ohio. The private pilot and two passengers sustained no injury. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot reported the purpose of the flight was to verify the proper operation of a newly installed automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast system in the airplane. After the confirmation of accuracy, the pilot maneuvered the airplane and entered the downwind leg of the traffic pattern. At the midfield point, the pilot added 10° flaps and applied full carburetor heat. The engine then “stumbled and quit.” The pilot attempted to restart the engine to no avail.

The pilot increased the flaps to 40° and he executed a teardrop-style left turn to the runway. He reported he was below the tree line but was still too high to make a touchdown. The airplane “floated long” and landed on airport property beyond the runway into trees, at stall speed. The airplane came to rest approximately at a 90° angle in the trees, with the left wing pointing down toward the ground and the right wing toward the sky. The three occupants were able to egress from the airplane without further incident.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the left wing and to the fuselage. The airplane was recovered from the accident site for a future examination. The airplane was modified with a Federal Aviation Administration-approved supplemental type certificate to utilize automotive fuel (commonly called “MOGAS”), which the pilot used to fuel the airplane with before the accident flight. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N3964L
Model/Series: 172G
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KYNG,1186 ft msl 
Observation Time: 14:51 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 7 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: -1°C /-12°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 12000 ft AGL
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots / 19 knots, 160°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.31 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Youngstown, OH
Destination: Youngstown, OH

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 None 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 41.136767,-80.617378 (est)

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.