On September 28, 1995, at 1415 hours Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA38-112, N2481F, landed hard and collided with a visual approach slope indicator (VASI) facility on runway 23 at Placerville Airport, Placerville, California. The student pilot was conducting a round robin solo cross-country visual flight rules (VFR) instructional flight from Fresno Air Terminal, Fresno, California, and return with intended landings at Placerville Airport and Salinas Airport, Salinas, California. The student pilot filed and activated a VFR flight plan and was not injured. The airplane, registered to a private individual and operated by Mazzei Flying Service, Fresno, California, sustained substantial damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight departed Fresno Air Terminal at 1200 hours.

The student pilot submitted the required Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report, NTSB Form 6120.1/2. He said in the report that when the airplane neared the threshold he reduced the engine power to idle while in a nose level attitude. The airplane then began to sink rapidly. He applied power to arrest the sink rate, but without success. At this time, the airplane's nose attitude was at a high angle of attack and the nose began to turn to the left. The airplane collided with the runway in a nose left attitude, bounced off the runway, and then struck the VASI facility.

The airport manager reported that the surface winds were variable from a calm condition to gusty conditions exceeding 15 knots.

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