This December 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 182. Location: Woodland, Ala. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The CFI and student launched for a night flight. A review of the flight instructor and student pilot’s sleep patterns and duty day revealed that both pilots had been awake for 20 hours before the flight. The flight instructor had previously complained to her husband that she was not getting enough sleep.
A review of transcripts between the airplane and the control tower revealed the pilot was cleared for takeoff and was provided a transponder code by the local controller. Soon after, the pilot requested flight following but there was no response from the local controller. The pilot made a second attempt to obtain flight following. There was no response from the controller, and no other record of any contact with any FAA air traffic control facility for the remainder of the flight. A review of the radar track revealed that the airplane descended to 1,700 feet MSL, although the minimum obstruction clearance altitude along the flight route varied from 2,500 to 3,500 feet. The last radar return showed the airplane at 2,100 feet, approximately 70 statute miles southeast of the accident site.
A witness who lived in the vicinity of the crash site stated he heard an airplane fly over his house at a high power followed by an impact sound. Evidence at the crash site revealed the airplane hit trees and the ground in a right descending nose down attitude. The engine was buried 4 feet below the surface of the ground. Examination of the wreckage revealed impact damage signatures on the wings and fuselage that were consistent with a stall. There was no evidence of any pre-impact mechanical failure.
Probable cause: The flight crews’ failure to maintain aircraft control while maneuvering, resulting in an inadvertent stall. Contributing to the accident was the flight crews’ impairment due to fatigue.
For more information: NTSB.gov