This March 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 172. Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious. Location: Gun Barrel City, Texas. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: On the day of the accident, the non-certificated pilot was attempting to “buzz” an acquaintance located in a park area by an elementary school. According to the passenger on board, while maneuvering toward the field, the airplane’s right wing hit a power transmission line. The pilot lost control of the airplane and it crashed nose-first into the ground. The passenger stated that the engine sounded normal and the pilot appeared to have no difficulty controlling the airplane up until the impact with the transmission line.
Until 2005 the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with single-engine land and multiengine land and instrument airplane ratings, as well as a certificate for helicopter operations. He had his license revoked in 2005 and was eligible to reapply for his license in 2006, but there was no record of him doing so. There was no information in the accident report as to why the pilot had his license revoked. The pilot did not possess a valid medical certificate at the time of the accident. His last application for a first class medical certificate was in 2000. At the time he stated that he had accumulated 1,610 hours with 175 hours logged in the previous six months.
The pilot’s personal logbook was not recovered. However, a logbook used to track airplane usage revealed that since April 26, 2007, the pilot had flown the accident airplane 14 times, logging 14.1 hours. In the accident airplane the pilot did not make any entries hours over the previous 60 days and made only one entry for 1.9 hours in the past 90 days. The owner of the airplane had an agreement that the pilot could borrow the airplane on a non-interference basis and pay for the use of the airplane via Hobbs meter hours. It is unknown if the pilot had access to another airplane.
A post-accident investigation of the airplane and engine did not reveal any pre-impact anomalies. The toxicology report noted low levels of an inactive metabolite of marijuana in the blood and urine, implying only that the pilot had used marijuana in the previous days or weeks.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to avoid the transmission line. A contributing factor was the pilot’s decision to perform a low-level maneuver.
For more information: NTSB.gov