Failure to remove control lock leads to accident

Aircraft: Cessna 172. Injuries: 1 Minor. Location: Culebra, P.R. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: After doing an engine runup, the pilot taxied onto the runway and started his takeoff roll. During the attempted takeoff, he realized that the control wheel would not move aft when he tried to pull back on it because the flight control lock was still installed.

He tried to remove the control lock while the airplane was on the go, but was not successful. The airplane was approaching the airport perimeter fence so he aborted the takeoff. The airplane crashed through the fence, crossed a road, and into trees.

Checklist procedures for the airplane require that the control wheel lock be removed during the preflight inspection, and that the flight controls be checked prior to takeoff to ensure free and correct operation before takeoff. During a post-accident interview, the pilot stated that he did not use the checklist.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to remove the flight control lock before takeoff.

NTSB Identification: ERA12CA325

This May 2012 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. Bluestar says

    Did he remember to put his pants on when he got up that morning?
    Really ? Sometimes the word “pilot” is missed used !

    • Tom says

      Pulled his pants up without a check list,
      Ate his breakfast with no written advice,
      Brushed his teeth with only a clenched fist,
      Passed some gas – maybe once or twice.

      But when he went flying he never,
      Failed to use the appropriate check list,
      It’s too risky if you’re trying to be clever,
      That’s this message and you get my gist.

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