Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Cessna 172N Skyhawk, N73670: Fatal accident occurred May 11, 2022 near Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (KBJC), Broomfield, Jefferson County, Colorado

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; Denver, Colorado
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas

5280 Flying Club LLC
Location: Broomfield, Colorado
Accident Number: CEN22FA197
Date and Time: May 11, 2022, 12:35 Local
Registration: N73670
Aircraft: Cessna 172 
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Instructional

On May 11, 2022, about 1235 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 172N airplane, N73670, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Broomfield, Colorado. The pilot sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight.

A preliminary review of track data indicated that the airplane departed from the Rocky Mountain Metro Airport (BJC), Broomfield, Colorado. The airplane departed to the southeast and entered the traffic pattern at the Colorado Air and Space Airport (CFO), Watkins, Colorado. The pilot performed a landing at CFO and then departed to the southeast. The pilot performed flight maneuvers to the south of Bennett, Colorado, and then departed back to the west to BJC. The pilot performed one approach to runway 12R at BJC and remained in the traffic pattern.

The air traffic controller instructed the pilot to widen his downwind leg before turning base for runway 12R, due to traffic landing on runway 12L. The controller then changed the landing to runway 12L and cleared the pilot to land. The pilot performed a right turn to the base leg, and after being established on final for runway 12L, the airplane abruptly turned to the north and rapidly descended.

The airplane impacted an intersection about ½ nm northwest of the approach end of runway 12L. The airplane came to rest on a sidewalk after impacting the ground and a traffic light pole. A postimpact fire ensued and the wreckage was destroyed.

The wreckage was recovered from the accident site for a future examination of the airframe and the engine.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N73670
Model/Series: 172N
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: KBJC,5595 ft msl
Observation Time: 12:38 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C /-7°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 24000 ft AGL 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 13 knots / 23 knots, 220°
Lowest Ceiling: 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.9 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Broomfield, CO 
Destination: Broomfield, CO

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: On-ground
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 39.922815,-105.12902 (est)

Aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances on short final and caught on fire. 

Date: 11-MAY-22
Time: 18:35:00Z
Regis#: N73670
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 172
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Total Fatal: 1
Flight Crew: 1 fatal
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: APPROACH (APR)
Operation: 91

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.

Justin Andrew Watkins
1992 - 2022

Sergeant Justin Andrew Watkins, born on January 15, 1992 in Toledo, Ohio,  died tragically May 11, 2022 in Broomfield, Colorado. He grew up and lived in Sylvania, Ohio and graduated from Southview High School in 2010. Justin joined the United States Marine Corps. spending 2 years in active duty in Norfolk, Virginia, and 2 years in Okinawa, Japan. Reenlisting as a reservist for 2 years in Hawaii, Justin gained many memorable moments and friends along the way. He was a true patriot who never passed an opportunity to thank a fellow veteran for their service to our country. Justin was employed in the food industry and was actively pursuing a career as a commercial airline pilot. He excelled at just about everything he tried his hands at, including mechanics, music, photography, diving, cooking, flying and simply driving. A bachelor, yet to find his life’s true love still longing to check off that box in his long list of admiral accomplishments, Justin left behind many loved ones whom his bright light of life touched in so many personal ways.

Left behind to cherish his memory are his parents, Bill and Brenda (Schroeder) Watkins; brothers, Will (Kelsey) and Austin (Rana); aunts, uncles and grandparents, Mary Lou Hoffman, Henry Schroeder, and Carol Earls; and many dear friends. He was preceded in death by his grandfathers, Foster Watkins and Ernie Hoffman; and Uncle Scott Campbell.

The family will receive guests on Sunday, May 29, 2022 from 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at Newcomer Funeral Home – West Sylvania, 3655 King Rd., Toledo, OH (419-392-9500) where a Celebration of Life will take place at 5:00 p.m. in the funeral home.


  1. Right time and tail:

  2. Plane owned by a flying club. Base to final stall by a student pilot?

    1. That is my guess. From what I heard they were turning to land on 30R when the crash occurred

    2. Based on adsb, track record indicates base to final turn successful then briefly established on final before a fairly normal turn rate 90 degree left turn north was made. Regardless, may this pilot rest in peace.

      I'm based out of BJC, and the approach to the 12's is notorious for shears and gusts due to the local terrain on that approach. It's almost always bumpy and shifty, even in "calm" wind. Conditions at the time were ~19009G20K which may have factored in.

    3. “ Plane owned by a flying club. Base to final stall by a student pilot?”

      Boy, I almost did this when I was practicing touch n goes while a student. I was also in a 172 and slightly overshot my turn from base to final and in order to correct my overshoot I cranked in more bank while turning to line me up with the runway. I was probably past 45 degrees of bank and I was low and slow. I began to feel a slight buffeting in the plane and it hit me what situation I was getting myself into. My plane was close to stalling and spinning. I added power and straightened the plane up and just went around and did a proper pattern and approach and landing this time. I just decided to end the practice session for the day after that because it put a good scare in me.

    4. "...approach to the 12's is notorious for shears and gusts. Yep - so is 30...I was coming in one day, ATC had me high on approach anyway, but it was so hard to descend because of desert heat thermals I had to abort and go around.

  3. Listening to the ATC tapes, the controller said the aircraft appeared to be on short final and banked to the left before loss of visual contact. Sounds like a stall spin to me.. I believe that spin awareness should be taught to every pilot, not just CFIs

    1. Spin knowledge is absolutely taught at the PPL level. As long as the CFI is doing their job.

    2. On short final no amount of spin awareness is going to save you. You're just a passenger on a deadly ride at that point

    3. Where is the best place to find ATC audio?

    4. "I believe that spin awareness should be taught to every pilot, not just CFIs"

      You can't spin without stalling first. Stall avoidance and recovery training has been part of private pilot training for 75 years. Spin training would be pointless in a low altitude stall anyway.

    5. Oh Sh... is all the spin awareness response for a recovery on short final !!!!

  4. Strong wind out of the south. His second pattern seems to be tighter and shifted further north, leading to overshoot.
    Right traffic causes some visibility restrictions for a lone pilot in a high-wing plane as well. Untimely engine failure, fuel starvation, or most likely stall-spin resulting from overshoot correction. IMO
    Flightradar24 playback.

    1. Flight playback shows no overshoot, it shows they lined up on the runway they were cleared to land on up until the apparent loss of control. For clarity, they had performed a pattern on 12R and at midfield downwind requested full stop and were given a change to 12L and cleared to land.

  5. Replies
    1. Most rentals in the CO area are fuel injected

    2. What conditions to you indicate that this had remotely anything to do with carb heat? It was a very warm day, I do not think icing was a problem.

    3. This 1976 model 172N did not have a fuel-injected engine. It was powered by a Lycoming O-320-H2AD 160hp engine.

      For sale ad from around 2017 with pictures.

    4. Even if it were carb heat, doesn't explain a stall spin. Which it clearly is a stall/spin based on the debris field.

    5. Let's pull up the WX archive and check the carb icing chart:

      KBJC 111838Z 22013G23KT 10SM SCT240 29/M07 A2990
      And also get the %RH that was in the raw AWOS:
      BJC,2022-05-11 18:38,84.20,19.40,9.04,220.00,13.00,0.00,29.90

      Temp 84F, dewpoint 19F, RH 9% is well away from icing:

      Carb Icing chart:$FILE/CE-09-35.pdf

      Archive AWOS/METAR is from:

    6. While we all should know that carb icing can occur in a variety of situations. Carburetor Icing is really non-existent in Colorado flying, due to the arid nature of the air. While it does happen, it is unlikely. In my decade-long experience of flying in Colorado (VFR), I only ever experienced carburetor icing once, which was on a warm day after it had snowed and the ice was melting off the ground and it had occurred while taxiing. Flying elsewhere, where humidity is a real thing, I have experienced it a hand full of time.
      I would bet money that this was a slow approach coupled with unexpected wind shear and a pilot who was not prepared for what was experienced. Tragic to say the absolute least.

  6. This really sucks. Looking at the flight track, he was just out there enjoying a day of flying and doing some maneuvers. When a wing stalls on a Cessna, especially in uncoordinated flight, it snaps hard. When we're training for stalls, we expect the break and can recover fairly quickly. When you're not expecting it, 500' or so AGL, not much even an experienced pilot can do at that point. While spin awareness is taught these days, I don't agree with only taking it to the "onset of the stall" and recovery. Students should be taken to the complete stall and experience the violence of the break; otherwise they'll never truly know how to recover. Very sad.

    1. It's in the ACS.

      Task B. Power Off Stalls
      PA. VII.B.S7 - Acknowledge cues of the impending stall and then recover promptly after a FULL STALL occurs.

      Uppercase to show location. Also the same requirement for Task C. Power On Stalls.

    2. Accelerated Stalls are not required yet. Those are the main killers on GRM and traffic pattern stalls. I used to teach them. On Tomahawks too.

  7. I think it's a sin that full spins aren't experienced until CFI.

    1. some of that may be based upon the flight school's fleet. Where I trained, the fleet was all Cessna 152s and 172s, and a few lessons after my first solo my instructor and I did a couple lessons of spin practice, probably around 20 hours into my training or so. However, if our school had a fleet of aircraft that spins are prohibited in, obviously that training wouldn't have happened.

    2. When I got my PPL in 1974, the CFI was required to demonstrate a spin to the student pilot. We used to do them in C150's all the time. But the FAA stopped it because there had been more accidents teaching spins than actually occurred in every day flying.

  8. He was a great man! He will surely be missed

    1. Hear here. Another great soul of the Aviation community to fly West. He absolutely will be missed. I did not know him personally, but knew the name and those who did. None spoke ill of him.

    2. He was an awesome young man. He will be missed by many! Heartbreaking

  9. Teaching student pilots to recognize incipient stalls is very important, but I'm not a big fan of having them do lots of full stalls. Sure, they need to do a couple to be able to recognize the feel of the plane as it stops flying, but building muscle memory to keep pulling back when things are obviously going badly just seems wrong.

    1. Exactly. The Priavate Pilot ACS teaches students to ignore the stall warning horn. Oddly, the Commercial ACS teaches pilots to recover at the first indication, which may include the stall horn. I think the criteria should be reversed - have Private students recover immediately when a stall horn or buffet happens. Alternatively, allow the instructor to disable the stall horn during the teaching of fully developed stalls, then you can *ALWAYS* teach students to recover *any time* they hear the stall horn. The FAA wouldn't go for this though. Sad.

  10. Sad to see this crash. Based on the flight track it sure looks like Check Ride Prepping. I just completed my PPL recently and just wonder if this pilot was practicing his Short Field Landing and just got too slow. In the student pilot world there is some anxiety on executing successful performance landings/takeoffs when with your DPE. Condolences to the family...

  11. in conclusion, Oh Shit..... was the only spin awareness SOP response on short final !!!! RIP.

  12. With a ground "Baro. Altitude: 5800 ft" per ADS-B, "The air traffic controller instructed the pilot to widen his right downwind leg before turning base for runway 12R, due to traffic landing on runway 12L. The controller then changed the landing to runway 12L and cleared the pilot to land. The pilot performed a right turn to the base leg, and after being established on final for runway 12L, (Baro. Altitude: ▼ 6200 ft) the airplane abruptly turned to the north and rapidly descended. per summary on ASN.

  13. This was an aileron stall, plain and simple. The winds were pretty gusty and a sideways gust of wind likely dropped the left wing while the plane was slow on approach, and the pilot incorrectly tried to use right yoke (down left aileron) to pick up the wing, which caused the left wing to exceed the critical angle of attack and stall and drop even more. Most pilots know you should never use aileron to fight roll from wind gusts when you are slow, you always use rudder.

    1. as noted above, "KBJC 11 1838Z 220 13G 23KT"

    2. Yes, opposite rudder, to increase the speed of the down-going wing which, as a consequence of it moving faster, generates lift and restores the situation. Only then can opposite aileron be used.

  14. Anyone have a name of the pilot?

    1. I believe this is who perished.

    2. Yes, this is him. If you get a chance, read his obituary. He was a great kid! Our family is devastated. Fly high Sergeant!

    3. I did read it and almost reached out to the family on the obit page. He was clearly hard at it and a good human and my heart breaks with empathy for his parents as I just lost my youngest son 8 months ago. So much potential, gone. Stay well and fly safe y'all.

    4. So sorry for your loss. What a great man and I want to say "thank you" for your service Marine.

  15. Miraculously, the dog survived a different crash on May 22, 2022, also in Broomfield but out of the Erie Airport.

    1. The dog of the 22 May crash was not in the 11 May N73670 crash that is the subject of this KR posting. The earlier poster incorrectly associated the 22 May crash's story with the 11 May crash of N73670.

  16. This young man served under me for several years. He was an outstanding U.S. Marine and a damn fine man. A mechanical prodigy and an overall wonderful human being… the world lost a great one. Semper Fi Sgt Watkins… until Valhalla…