Lakebed landing goes bad for student

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: Newcastle, Utah.
Injuries: None.
Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The student pilot, who was on a solo flight, landed on a dry lakebed he had landed on the day before with his instructor. On the day of the accident, the student attempted to takeoff utilizing a soft field technique in a gusty crosswinds. He took off in a westerly direction with the wind from about 200° at 10 knots with gusts to 15 knots. The airplane lifted off and was in ground effect when a gust of wind pushed it to the right. The student pilot tried to abort the takeoff. The 172 touched down beyond the lake bed surface in a field of sparsely spaced small dirt mounds and bushes. The main landing gear was damaged when the plane hit a dirt berm. This caused the wings to hit the ground.

Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate compensation for the gusty and crosswind condition, and his failure to maintain control of the airplane during takeoff.

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