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On June 25, 1997, at 2215 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172N, N7031Q, sustained substantial damage when it impacted terrain during an attempted VFR go-around from runway 36 at Canton, Michigan. The private rated pilot sustained minor injuries and the pilot rated passenger sustained serious injuries. The 14 CFR Part 91, personal flight originated in Grand Haven, Michigan about 2115 with a planned destination of Canton, Michigan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed.
According to a written statement by the pilot, "Established on final approach, I found the aircraft too high and too close; generally I didn't like the position, nor the conditions that had led up to it. After descending briefly on final approach, I made a decision to circle for another approach.
"At the approximate approach-end of Runway 36, and about 600 feet AGL, I established a no-flap glide of 80 knots, and opened the throttle. After 3 to 5 seconds, I realized the engine had not responded to my advancing the throttle control."
"As I know the terrain surrounding the airport, I knew there was a short field north of the runway, across a small highway. However, this field is only 500 feet deep, with a building and trees at the end...I made the decision that a straight-ahead landing was not feasible, and decided to risk a 90-degree turn to put the airplane down alongside, or perhaps on, Joy Road, immediately to the north of the runway end."
"Knowing that a steep turn would consume about the right amount of altitude, I banked sharply to the left. As the aircraft began to align with Joy Road, I began flattening the turn. Just before I had leveled the turn, the left wingtip struck the ground, the nose pitched down, with the impact of the nosewheel apparently tearing the engine from its mount. The front bulkhead dug into the sod, the right wingtip struck the ground, and the aircraft yawed to the left as it stopped."
The pilot sustained multiple lacerations and the passenger received serious head injuries according to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector's report. Both were transported to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital and treated.
Witnesses to the accident stated that the aircraft was high on the approach, approximately 200 to 250 feet over the runway numbers on the south side of the airport, and 50 to 60 feet at midfield. "At end of runway wings level 30 feet above runway. Made steep banked turn to left looked like 70 degrees of bank, plane stalled...plane impacted...aircraft came to rest, tail high attitude, faceing opposite direction, 30 feet north of Joy Road. 100 feet off center line of runway."
The pilot-in-command (PIC), born November 11, 1956, was the holder of a private pilot certificate with privileges for single engine land airplanes, and held an instrument rating. Records indicate the pilot's last aviation medical examination was performed on November 20, 1995. The pilot possessed a third class medical with no limitations or waivers.
According to the pilot's flight records, he has accumulated a total of 720 hours of flight time prior to the accident flight. He had completed 485 hours in the accident aircraft make and model. In the 24 hours prior to the accident he accumulated 1.1 flight hours.
The accident aircraft was a Cessna 172N, N7031Q, serial number 172-60331. The 172 is an all-metal, four-place, high-wing, single-engine airplane equipped with tricycle landing gear. The airplane logged 4304 hours prior to the accident flight. The last inspection was an annual inspection, completed on September 20, 1996, 96 flight hours prior to the accident flight.
A weather reporting station, located at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, 10 miles from the accident site on a 150 magnetic heading, reported 21 minutes prior to the accident as:
Observation Time: 2154 est Wind: 180-degrees at 7 knots Visibility: 5 statute miles with mist Sky Condition: Scattered at 8,000 feet, Broken at 20,000 feet Temperature: 23-degrees centigrade Dew Point Temperature: 22-degrees centigrade Pressure: 29.91 inches of Mercury.
The airport's only runway is a north-south runway with dimensions of 2,556 feet by 75 feet. Joy Road runs perpendicular to the runway and is about 30 feet north of the north end of the runway. The field on the north side of the airport where the accident occurred is approximately 500 feet in length by 400 feet in width.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
FAA investigators from the Detroit Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) joined a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator on the scene of the accident.
According to a FAA inspector's report, "The airplane came to rest in a nose low tail up position. The police dispatcher (a student pilot) stated that fuel was leaking out of the airplane. He stated he turned the fuel selector to the OFF position inside the airplane. He stated it had been positioned on BOTH. He stated the Master switch was already turned off."
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The engine was inspected and it was found that the engine would rotate freely, had continuity to all rocker arms and aft gears, had thumb compression in all cylinders, and produced sparks at all leads. Inspection of the carburetor found the throttle arm installed out of position such that when the throttle was pulled fully closed the arm was pointing straight back at the cable. In this position when the throttle was advanced in the cockpit the cable and housing would bind and could allow the throttle arm on the carburetor to move upward instead of down and forward through its normal arch. Also, the throttle arm was attached to the carburetor, but the cable separated 18 inches aft of the attachment with the throttle arm. The throttle arm appears to be mounted out of position such that at full idle setting it is pointed almost directly aft. The mixture cable is separated from the arm on the carburetor. The carburetor heat cable is intact and the valve appears on.
The wreckage was released to the airport manager on June 27, 1997.
Parties to the investigation were the FAA FSDO, Detroit, MI; Gregory Erikson, Lycoming; and Emile Lohman, Cessna.