NTSB Identification: NYC97LA001.
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Accident occurred Friday, October 04, 1996 in COUDERSPORT, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/29/1997
Aircraft: Cessna 172, registration: N5154E
Injuries: 2 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot was maneuvering the airplane at low altitude to photograph a private residence. The house was located at the base of a hollow with steeply rising terrain on both sides. The general area from the house to the accident site was a hollow (valley). A witness '...two to three hundred yards down the mountain from the accident site...' said he heard the airplane fly over. He said the airplane '...went overhead two or three times and I noticed they were quite low. The last time I saw them go over ... [the airplane] seemed to be working fine. I didn't perceive any motor problems. They gunned it to climb over the valley - seemed like they were climbing.' The witness said that he then heard '...a severe noise...' when the airplane crashed. Neither the pilot nor the passenger had any recollection of the accident. Examination of the aircraft did not disclose evidence of a mechanical malfunction.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

the pilot's improper in-flight planning/decision, and his failure to ensure that adequate airspeed would be maintained, while maneuvering at low altitude to photograph a residence. The rising terrain and lack of altitude were related factors.

Full narrative available

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