This November 2007 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.
Aircraft: Cessna 172. Location: Gladwin, Mich. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: Several friends of the pilot, who had logged 190.9 hours, said he often took aerial photographs during his flights. His logbook documented numerous flights that were undertaken for the express purpose of photographing objects on the ground. Several witnesses on the ground saw the airplane maneuvering at a low altitude. The airplane was in a left turn when it suddenly banked to the right, then left, then plunged nose down into a wooded area.
Local law enforcement personnel recovered a digital camera that was slung around the pilot’s neck. The camera contained photographs of the immediate area surrounding the accident site. The pilot had taken 112 photos during the accident flight. Examination of the recovered wreckage revealed no evidence of a pre-impact mechanical malfunction.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain aircraft control while maneuvering at a low altitude. The pilots diverted attention while attempting to photograph ground objects was a factor.
For more information: NTSB.gov