Gusting winds roll Cessna

Aircraft: Cessna 172. Injuries: None. Location: West Palm Beach, Fla. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The flight instructor and student pilot were practicing touch-and-go landings on runway 31 in crosswind conditions. The student pilot’s landing was fine, but during the takeoff roll, the plane encountered a gust of wind and began to veer to the right.

The flight instructor took control of the airplane. The Cessna reached an altitude of about 10 feet above the runway when another wind gust caused it to roll over. The airplane came to rest on its back on the adjacent taxiway.

The flight instructor reported that were no mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane.

The reported wind at the airport about the time of the accident was from 220° at 19 knots with 29-knot gusts. The pilot’s operating handbook indicates that operation in a direct crosswind of up to 15 knots has been demonstrated.

Probable cause: The flight instructor’s failure to maintain control during the takeoff in gusting crosswind conditions. Contributing to the accident was his decision to conduct takeoffs and landings in conditions exceeding the airplane’s maximum demonstrated crosswind capability.

NTSB Identification: ERA12CA419

This June 2012 accident report is are 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. brett hawkins says

    As usual, you just can’t win. These days, there is no such thing as an “accident”. Somebody has to take the blame, and for aviation it’s the NTSB’s job to assign it to the pilot. Most pilots already know this and ignore the NTSB’s (forgone) conclusions and focus on the facts in the reports for a learning experience.

    The problem is when some striving “journalist” decides to comb through NTSB reports and other public records generated in connection with aviation accidents, take them as gospel, and write a big scary piece like the one that just appeared in USA today. Just the thing to grab a housewife’s attention when waiting in the checkout line at Piggly Wiggly.

    This kind of attitude also makes it pretty risky to go out and conduct training in semi-realistic conditions like we’re told to do all the time. After continued stall-and-spin training accidents the FAA decided that it was safer to simply avoid spins by teaching stall avoidance. You can still get the real training but you have to ask (and pay) for it. How are we going to train to avoid landing accidents? By teaching “landing avoidance”?

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