On July 29, 2000, at 1750 Eastern Daylight Time, a Cessna 172P, N65827, was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain during landing to Runway 10 at the Princeton Airport (39N), Princeton, New Jersey. The student pilot was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the instructional solo flight that originated at 39N, approximately 1720. No flight plan was filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The student pilot was interviewed by telephone at his home. He said he departed on a solo instructional flight and was on his third approach to the runway. According to the student pilot:
"I was doing pattern work and I was on my third landing. I was lined up on the runway and was at my approach speed of 65. I started to flare and the airplane started to drift off the runway. I added full power and pushed the carburetor heat in. The plane lifted up and went nose in. I guess I stalled it."
An aviation safety inspector of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) interviewed several witnesses by telephone. According to the inspector's record of telephone conversation with one witness:
"The witness stated the pilot was doing soft field landings. The breeze was from the south and [the airplane] was landing east. On the final landing the nose was very high and the tailskid hit the ground. The pilot attempted a go-around and he got wind under the right wing and hit the left wing and was nose down..."
According to the record of telephone conversation with a second witness:
"...The pilot was working the pattern and doing takeoffs and landings (approximately 3 times), they were all too high and fast. The last landing was about 10 to 15 feet high and he had slowed down to do what appeared to be a soft field landing. The nose came up and the back down. The tail nearly scraped. The pilot applied full power with one wing low and the nose down to the ground. The aircraft cartwheeled over hitting the left wing and kept going, bouncing up and hitting the right wing and turned around and came to a stop with a collapsing nose wheel."
According to the record of telephone conversation with a third witness:
"The aircraft was landing, doing what appeared to be a soft field landing. When all of a sudden the nose raised and tail hit the ground and the engine revved. The aircraft started yawing off the runway with only one wheel on the ground. Pilot attempted to do a full power [go-around], turning left when the left tip of wing hit grass and aircraft turned and ended up in the grass."
When questioned about the performance of the airplane, the student pilot said, "It seemed to be performing well."
A review of the student pilot's flight records revealed he had approximately 42 hours of total flight experience, all of which was in the Cessna 172.
The weather reported at Trenton, New Jersey, 10 miles southwest of Princeton was ceiling 2,500 feet with winds from 120 degrees at 9 knots.
According to FAA Advisory Circular AC-61-23C, Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge:
"The effect of torque increases in direct proportion to engine power, airspeed, and airplane attitude. If the power setting is high, the airspeed slow, and the angle of attack high, the effect of torque is greater. During takeoffs and climbs, when the effect of torque is most pronounced, the pilot must apply sufficient right rudder pressure to counteract the left-turning tendency and maintain a straight takeoff path."