NTSB Identification: WPR11FA415
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, August 29, 2011 in Santa Monica, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/31/2013
Aircraft: CESSNA 172M, registration: N5155Q
Injuries: 1 Serious,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.

The student pilot reported that shortly after liftoff, the airspeed indicator needle showed an increase and then a decrease to zero. He realized that the airplane’s airspeed indicator was not operational and advised the air traffic control tower controller. As the pilot returned to land at the airport, the airplane was higher than normal above the runway surface. With a quarter of the runway remaining, the airplane had not touched down. The air traffic control tower controller advised the pilot to go around. The pilot initiated a go-around; however, the airplane impacted trees and a house. The student pilot, as well as his flight instructor, reported that his flight instruction did not include operations simulating a loss of airspeed indication. Although the student pilot reported checking the pitot tube prior to departure, postaccident examination of the airplane’s pitot tube showed that debris, consistent with soil and insect material, was present between the ram air inlet and the drain hole. This resulted in the airspeed indicator showing zero airspeed. Review of the air traffic control services related to the accident revealed that they did not cause or contribute to the accident. The local controller’s actions were reasonable and in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Order 7110.65, “Air Traffic Control”: the local controller handled the situation in accordance with his best judgment based on his perceptions and understanding of the situation.

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

The student pilot’s misjudged approach and landing attempt. Contributing to the accident was a lack of airspeed due to a blocked pitot tube.

Full narrative available

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