Inadequate flare, hard landing

Aircraft: Cessna 172. Injuries: None. Location: Bar Harbor, Maine. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was undergoing a flight review at the time of the accident. During the approach to landing he used 20° of flaps and attempted to side-slip the airplane.

While beginning the landing flare the plane encountered a gust of wind and came down hard on all three landing gear. The pilot was able to taxi the airplane to the hangar.

During the post-flight inspection he noticed damage to the nose gear tire. Subsequent inspections revealed substantial damage to the lower left portion of the firewall.

The wind about the time of the accident was from 300° at 10 knots with gusts to 19 knots, and was variable in direction from 270° to 340°.

Probable cause: The pilot’s inadequate landing flare while landing with a gusting wind, which resulted in a hard landing.

NTSB Identification: ERA11CA333

This April 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. Greg W says

    You want to land at the slowest possible speed, but you MUST land under control. The rule of thumb is as Steve said, to add 50% of the gust velocity to you’re approach speed. Always fly the airplane don’t let the airplane fly you. It is easy to just let it sink and land it’s self, especially with tricycle gear.

  2. Steve says

    In these gusty situations, seems like I’m always telling my flight students to “add just a little more power, fly it down to the runway,” increasing the approach speed by half the gust factor.

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