These October 2009 accident reports are provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, they are intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.
Aircraft: Cessna 172. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Vennington, Vt. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The private pilot had logged 174 hours, with 15 hours of night flight. A review of his logbook did not reveal any evidence that he had previously flown patterns or landings at the accident airport. The pilot entered a right traffic pattern at the accident airport.
The Airport/Facility Directory did not direct right-hand traffic for runway 13. Witnesses stated that it appeared the pilot performed two go-arounds and on the last approach was too high on final approach. The airplane crashed into trees on base leg. Two witnesses stated that the engine was running at the time of impact.
The wreckage came to rest at an elevation of about 1,082 feet, or about 250 feet above the airport’s elevation. If the pilot had flown the same altitude on a left-hand pattern to runway 13, at the same point in the pattern where the accident occurred, the airplane would have cleared the terrain by about 300 feet.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from terrain during a night approach. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s non-standard traffic pattern over higher terrain.
For more information: NTSB.gov NTSB Identification: ERA10FA029