This September 2009 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: Piper Warrior, Cessna 152. Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious. Location: Coolidge, Ariz. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: Both airplanes were on simulated instrument flights in visual flight conditions. Both lesson profiles called for the pilot in the left-seat to wear a vision-restricting instrument training hood, while the pilot in the right seat acted as a safety/lookout pilot. The flights were being done in an area of high density student training.
The pilot of the Piper had just rolled out of a right turn associated with the entry to a practice holding pattern to a non-controlled airport. The pilot of the Cessna had departed a non-controlled airport and was in an en route climb to cruise altitude, at which he would return to his home airport.
Neither airplane was receiving radar traffic advisories, nor was either in contact with a controlling FAA facility. The pilots in the Piper said that they were monitoring the designated practice area frequency, and did not hear other airplanes in the immediate area. The survivor in the Cessna could not clearly remember if he had been making position calls on the practice area frequency, but his radio was found set to that frequency and he said that he had been trained to make such calls.
Both aircraft were at an altitude of 4,500 feet. The Cessna was on a magnetic ground track of about 265°, and the Piper had rolled out on a course intercept heading of 288° about 10 to 15 seconds prior to the collision. The Cessna’s right wing penetrated the lower left engine cowl of the Piper, and the Piper’s left main landing gear wheel and tire hit the right side of the Cessna’s aft fuselage. The impact tore off a portion of the Cessna’s right wing and tail. The Cessna crashed. The pilots in the Piper executed a power-off forced landing. The weather at the time was reported as clear skies with 10 miles visibility. Neither safety/lookout pilot saw the other airplane prior to the collision.
Probable cause: The failure of both safety/spotter pilots to see and avoid the other airplanes.
For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB Identification: WPR09FA437B