On May 5, 1997, at 1700 central daylight time, a Cessna 172, N5254R, piloted by a private pilot, accompanied by a certificated flight instructor, was substantially damaged when it nosed over during an engine runup at the approach end of runway 30 at the Chicago/Palwaukee Municipal Airport, Wheeling, Illinois. A flight plan had not been filed for the intended 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The pilot reported no injuries. The flight instructor reported minor injuries.

The pilot said the airplane was "...facing [the] active runway 30..." after it had crossed the runway's hold short line and made a 180 degree turn. The flight instructor said that during the engine runup the airplane began to "...pivot left on the nose gear/left main, the right wing continued to rise, the prop struck the ground, and then the aircraft went up on the spinner and over on its back... ."

A witness reported seeing N5254R roll onto its left wingtip and then yaw onto its nose. This was followed by the airplane nosing over to an inverted position. This witness said the airplane did a "...little spin job..." when it was on its propeller spinner. He said the airplane's nose was pointing to the northwest after it had nosed over. An employee of the airport authority said the airplane's propeller dug into the asphalt. He said the propeller scar was parallel to the hold line for runway 30.

During an interview, the pilot said he could not recall N5254R's control positions during the runup. The flight instructor said he and the pilot were looking at the engine's RPM indicator when the event occurred and he could not recall the flight control positions.

Winds reported just prior to the accident were form 280 degrees at 21 knots gusting to 34 knots.

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