On May 27, 1997, at 0045 hours mountain standard time, a Cessna 152, N757HE, collided with an elk during landing roll at Payson, Arizona. The aircraft sustained substantial damage. The flight instructor and the student pilot were not injured. The aircraft was being operated as a training flight when the accident occurred. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a VFR flight plan was not filed. The flight originated on May 26 in Chandler, Arizona, at 2315.

The flight instructor stated in his report that the purpose of the flight was to practice a night cross-country flight through Class B airspace to Prescott, with a diversion to Payson about halfway through the flight. He further stated that upon landing in Payson, during the landing rollout, an elk ran in front of the aircraft and it was struck broadside. The instructor stated that they did not see the elk until "about 1 second before" impact.

A review of the preceding 5 years of the Safety Board accident database revealed that there have been two recent accidents that involved elk on the runway. The City Manager of Payson stated that the city has recently accepted a grant offer to begin the biding process and subsequent construction of an 8-foot wall around the airport property. The current fence is only 5 feet high. The City Manager said that he hoped to have the fence in place by the end of the calendar year.

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