This February 2008 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 172RG. Injuries: None. Location: Litchfield, Ill. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The pilot was flying over a lake. He did not see any obstacles, but did see some birds. He performed a low pass, approximately 100 feet above the lake, without incident. During a second low pass, he heard an impact noise, which was immediately followed by a loss of engine power and engine vibration. A forced landing was made in a nearby muddy field. The airplane nosed over shortly after touchdown.
The accident investigation determined that the airplane had hit a static wire that was strung across the lake. The wire, approximately 40 feet above the water, was part of two-wire power transmission line. The airplane’s propeller had damage consistent with a wire strike.
Probable cause: The pilot’s intentional low altitude flight and his failure to maintain clearance from the static wire. Contributing to the accident were the static wire, the partial loss of engine power due to propeller vibration, and the muddy field in which the forced landing was made.
For more information: NTSB.gov