High winds bring down student pilot

Aircraft: Cessna 172. Injuries: 1 Serious. Location: Spanish Fork, Utah. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The student pilot delayed his departure because of reported high wind conditions at his planned destination airport, which was five miles away.

The nearest weather reporting facility was located at that airport, and the wind reported about 32 minutes before the accident was southwesterly at 16 knots, gusting to 26 knots.

Shortly thereafter, the pilot noted that the wind was down the runway so he decided to depart for local takeoff-and-landing practice. During his first landing, the airplane bounced and the pilot said that he encountered a “microburst or intense wind.”

He lost control of the airplane. The airplane cartwheeled several times and crashed into an airport perimeter fence. Two witnesses reported a high, gusting wind at the accident airport and estimated it to be 40 to 50 knots from the southwest at the time of the accident. The pilot was landing to the southeast, and it is likely that the pilot encountered a gusting crosswind.

Probable cause: The student pilot’s inadequate compensation for the gusting wind, which resulted in a loss of airplane control during landing. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s decision to depart with a high gusting wind.

NTSB Identification: WPR11LA175

This March 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

    Those of us that fly in Utah are very guarded about the sporadic high gusting winds,I’ve take off in almost calm winds,arriving back 30-40min.later to heavy gusts,afternoons are the worst

    • RudyH says

      They impressed upon me, as a student, to tie it down when those gusts are up there. It’s known as be ever mindful of crosswind components…they don’t cut you much slack, especially as a newbie…….

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