NTSB Identification: LAX89LA139.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 40121.
Accident occurred Tuesday, March 28, 1989 in SANTA BARBARA, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/02/1990
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration: N20356
Injuries: 1 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 AIRPLANE HAD BEEN OBSERVED FOR SEVERAL MINUTES FLYING VERY LOW OVER THE WATER. AT ONE POINT, IT STRUCK THE WATER BUT RECOVERED AND FLEW A BIT HIGHER ABOVE THE WATER FOR ANOTHER MILE. THE AIRPLANE DID NOT TURN TOWARD THE SHORELINE AND IT APPEARED TO GLIDE NOSE DOWN INTO THE WATER. THE STUDENT PILOT SAID HE WAS DESCENDING TOWARD THE WATER AT 400 TO 600 FPM WHEN THE ENGINE BACKFIRED. HE SAID THAT HE APPLIED CARBURETOR HEAT BUT THE ENGINE CONTINUED TO RUN ROUGH AND WOULD PRODUCE ONLY 1,200 RPM. HE FLEW AT THIS POWER SETTING FOR A MILE OR MORE, JUST ABOVE THE WATER, AND EVEN STRUCK THE TOPS OF THE WAVES AT TIMES. THE WHEELS STRUCK THE WATER AND THE AIRPLANE BOUNCED, AND THEN NOSED INTO THE WATER. THE WRECKAGE WAS NOT RECOVERED.

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

THE IMPROPER INFLIGHT PLANNING/DECISIONS BY THE PLT WHEN HE DECIDED TO INTENTIONALLY FLY LOW OVER ROUGH WATER IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN AND THE PARTIAL LOSS OF POWER FOR UNDETERMINED REASONS.

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