Improper flare leads to nosegear collapse

This June 2007 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Cessna 172.
Location: Katy, Texas.
Injuries: None.
Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The 43-hour student pilot was returning from his first solo cross-country flight. He told investigators that he misjudged the airplane’s altitude above the runway and flared too early. The Cessna stalled and dropped 10 feet to the runway, then began to porpoise. The pilot did not initiate a go-around. The nose gear collapsed. The pilot attempted to taxi the airplane off the active runway without success.

The post-accident inspection revealed the engine firewall was bent and the nose gear assembly fractured.

Probable cause: The student pilot’s improper flare and failure to recover from a bounced landing.

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