Showing off kills student pilot

This September 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: Union Star, Mo.

Injuries: 1 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The 17-year-old student pilot, who had logged 22.7 hours, had been signed off for solo flight. He departed on the solo training flight with instructions to practice ground reference maneuvers, stalls, and steep turns in the local practice area. Instead of going to the practice area the student flew to a neighborhood where  several of his friends and relatives lived. Several witnesses on the ground reported the airplane “buzzed” their homes. One witness said the pilot appeared to throw something out of the airplane. Witnesses described the airplane as circling, climbing, descending, and banking steeply at low altitudes until it hit powerlines and then terrain.

Probable cause: The student pilot’s poor decision to show off and failure to maintain adequate airspeed and distance from terrain.

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