NTSB Identification: LAX89FA296.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 41998.
Accident occurred Wednesday, September 06, 1989 in CALIFORNIA CITY, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/22/1992
Aircraft: GRUMMAN AA-5B, registration: N28493
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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.

THE STUDENT PILOT ON HER SECOND SOLO CROSS COUNRTY EXPERIENCED A PARTIAL LOSS OF ENGINE POWER DURING THE INITIAL CLIMB. SHE MADE THREE ATTEMPTS TO LAND ON THE TAKEOFF RUNWAY, EACH TIME FLYING A LEFT TRAFFIC PATTERN THAT WAS LOWER THAN THE PRECEDING PATTERN. GROUND WITNESSES SAW THE AIRCRAFT FLY PATTERNS THAT WERE 'LOW, CLOSE AND WITH TIGHT BASE TO FINAL TURNS.' ON EACH BASE TO FINAL TURN, THE AIRCRAFT OVERSHOT THE TURN DUE TO A STRONG LEFT CROSS WIND. DURING THE THIRD BASE TO FINAL TURN, THE WITNESSES SAW THE AIRCRAFT ENTER A VERY STEEP BANK, STALL, AND HIT THE GROUND ON THE LEFT WING TIP. A POST CRASH FIRE DESTROYED THE AIRCRAFT. NO EVIDENCE OF A CATASTROPHIC ENGINE FAILURE WAS FOUND. FOUR OF THE SPARK PLUGS FAILED A PRESSURE CHAMBER TEST, WITH THREE OF THEM SHOWING GAPS IN EXCESS OF .022' (NORMAL GAP IS .016) AND WERE VERY WORN. REVIEW OF THE MAINTENANCE RECORDS SHOWED THAT THE MAINTENANCE FACILITY ONLY REPLACED SPARK PLUGS ON A ONE FOR ONE BASIS INSTEAD OF IN COMPLETE SETS.

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

FAILURE OF THE STUDENT PILOT TO MAINTAIN A PROPER AIRSPEED WHILE MANEUVERING FOR AN EMERGENCY LANDING. FACTORS IN THE ACCIDENT WERE THE PARTIAL ENGINE POWER LOSS, WHICH WAS DUE TO IMPROPER MAINTENANCE PROCEDURES, THE STUDENT PILOT'S INEXPERIENCE, THE STRONG CROSS WIND, AND THE HIGH DENSITY ALTITUDE.

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