While on a personal flight, the airline transport pilot made several low passes over a lake in front of a friend’s house. The friend and two other witnesses reported that, on its last pass, the Cessna 150 was flying at a low altitude when it pitched down slightly, hit the surface of the lake near Farmerville, Louisiana, nosed over, and sank. The pilot died in the crash.
The friend reported hearing the engine “sputter,” followed by an increase in power before the impact. One of the other witnesses reported that the engine was running throughout the low pass.
A post-accident examination of the wreckage did not find any pre-impact anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the airplane.
Although the temperature and dew point were conducive to serious icing at glide power, the witness observations and forward bending of the propeller blades were consistent with the engine operating at cruise or climb power at impact.
A portable GPS unit found in the wreckage did not contain any data about the flight. However, the GPS unit did record data consistent with previous flights where an airplane flew near the accident location. Additionally, one witness stated that the pilot was friends with a neighbor and had conducted numerous low passes over the lake during the previous four years.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from the lake during a low-level maneuver.
NTSB Identification: CEN17FA281
This July 2017 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.