Night landing ends with a stall

Aircraft: Cessna 182. Injuries: 2 Fatal, 2 Serious. Location: Levelland, Texas. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The accident happened during a night VFR cross-country flight. The private pilot, who had approximately 550 hours, was attempting a straight-in approach to the uncontrolled airport. Weather conditions included a direct crosswind of 10 to 11 knots.

After touching down, the airplane began to veer toward the edge of the runway. The pilot attempted a go-around, but the airplane stalled and rolled to the left and the left wing hit the ground just off the runway’s edge. The airplane tumbled, coming to rest on its back in the grass. A surviving passenger said that the touchdown was very rough.

The post-accident examination did not detect any pre-impact anomalies with the airplane. The flight instructor who recommended the pilot for his private pilot check ride in 2007 said that he and two other flight instructors who taught the pilot had trouble teaching him to fly. The pilot failed his first check ride because he had trouble maintaining direction control during the landing flare, touchdown, and the landing roll. The CFI said that the pilot had bad hand-eye coordination, did not have quick reflexes, and could not think quickly. When the CFI was told that there was a 10 to 11 knot direct crosswind at the airport the night of the accident, he said that the pilot would have had trouble with that.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain control of the airplane during a landing and subsequent go-around with a crosswind.

NTSB Identification: CEN11FA195

This February 2011 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.


  1. says

    Passing a check ride is a license to learn as I was told.
    From the years plus hours, he was flying above the average.
    The CFI & FAA fellows who signed off
    On the training an ck ride did their job. I also think he had some BFR’S between the time since licensed.
    Don’t cast stones unless all the answers are known.

  2. John Barsness says

    It’s unfortunate that this pilot stacked the deck against himself by choosing to make this flight with a night landing. He would likely have pulled it off OK in the daytime, but add the associated risks of flying at night and the end result is understandable. I guess what I am trying to say is, for those of us who fly VFR for 15-50 hours per year (that includes me) and are maybe not the greatest plane handlers to begin with, stack the deck in your favor. Don’t fly at night. Don’t fly in crappy weather. Don’t overload your plane. Flying should be fun, not an exercise in “we almost didn’t make it”. Just my .02 cents. Fly safe y’all. jb

  3. Lee Ensminger says

    I disagree, Brett. I look at three CFI’s saying he had poor hand-eye skills, slow reflexes and inability to think and react quickly, followed by a failed first checkride, and I wonder why someone didn’t talk this poor devil out of trying to become a pilot. Flying an airplane isn’t for everyone, and there’s no shame in that. You have to know and accept your limitations. A 10-11 kt. crosswind should have been no problem in a loaded C-182. I know it seems at cross-purposes for CFI’s to tell someone they shouldn’t fly, but a CFI I respect greatly did just that at our airport, and just maybe saved the man’s life as well as anyone who might have been with him.

    This was a case of a marginal, at best, pilot who made a bad decision to fly at night. Now there are two dead people and two seriously injured people. If one of the CFI’s or the DPE’s had talked him out of flying, they might all be alive and healthy. Don’t get me wrong. I love flying and anyone can have a bad landing. But it seems like there were danger signals that were ignored.

  4. Brett says

    Alright, in the absence of a mechanical failure, obviously the pilot did something wrong. However, in respect for the deceased, it doesn’t feel quite right for the CFI to skewer him for poor flying based on his student skills 6 years ago. After 550 hours, who knows what the pilot’s skills were like.

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