The newly-certificated private pilot was conducting a sightseeing flight near San Jose, California, at night with friends in a Cessna 172. He was not familiar with the airport.
During the initial approach to land, he performed a go-around. He returned to land and, during the landing roll, lost directional control of the airplane, which subsequently left the runway and came to rest inverted.
The airplane had been rented through a collaborative aircraft rental company where the pilot received a checkout in one location, and was permitted to fly the same make and model airplane at locations within the company’s rental network throughout the country.
Given his limited overall experience, landing at night at the unfamiliar airport and operating near the maximum gross weight of the airplane could have been challenging for the pilot.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain directional control during the landing roll at night, which resulted in a runway excursion.
NTSB Identification: WPR16LA024
This November 2015 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.