NTSB Identification: LAX98FA045B
Accident occurred Tuesday, November 25, 1997 in EL CAJON, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/22/2000
Aircraft: Cessna 172M, registration: N9518H
Injuries: 1 Fatal,2 Minor.
NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
A Cessna 152 (C-152)and a Cessna 172 (C-172) collided in mid air while in a closed traffic pattern at Gillepsie Field. A student and flight instructor were aboard the C-152, and a student pilot was the sole occupant of the C-172. The C-172 was cleared to takeoff with instructions to follow the C-152. A third aircraft was also in the traffic pattern at the time. After takeoff, the air traffic controller looked away to check on other traffic but when he looked back, neither aircraft was visible. He made several unsuccessful calls to both the pilots. The student in the C-152 reported that he had turned crosswind as he came abeam of the third aircraft. When he reached pattern altitude, he began his downwind turn. He was trimming the aircraft when he saw the C-172 approaching his position. He banked hard to avoid the aircraft, but felt an impact. The instructor attempted to take the controls and, with both pilots on the controls, they executed an emergency forced landing on a surface street. The aircraft elevator control lost effectiveness and the aircraft landed hard. They did not report any other mechanical abnormalities before or after the collision. Witnesses reported that both aircraft were on a converging flight path. The student pilot in the C-172 was making his second solo flight but had not advised the controller. The controller did not specify that he was number 3 in the pattern. Haze was reported in all quadrants. The Brite radar repeater in the tower cab is not capable of monitoring traffic on the south side of the airport due to terrain height.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The solo student's failure to see and follow the other aircraft on the downwind as he had been instructed. Factors influencing this accident was the failure of the pilots in the other aircraft to see and avoid the aircraft encroaching on his flight path; the pilot's failure to verify the controller's instructions; the altitude limitation of the Brite radar repeater in the tower cab that prevented it use in traffic pattern separation; and the prevailing haze which restricted visibility. Full narrative available
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