On July 18, 2002, at 1100 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 172N, N1373E, piloted by a student pilot, was substantially damaged during takeoff when it veered to the left and ran off the runway. The pilot was practicing takeoffs and landings on runway 12 (5,498 feet x 75 feet, asphalt) at the Black Hills--Clyde Ice Field Airport (SPF), Spearfish, South Dakota. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight was being conducted under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91, and was his first solo flight. The pilot reported no injuries.

In his written statement, the pilot noted "I put full power into the aircraft and was rolling down runway 12 and noticed the nose was getting light prematurely. I glanced down and noticed the control lock hole on the flight control stick was 2-3 inches back from neutral position. I quickly tried to push the stick back to neutral but there was so much pressure on the stick I couldn't move it. . . . As soon as I noticed the pressure I throttled back to idle. Just before I throttled back to idle, the elevator, which was stuck in a liftoff position, create[d] enough lift to get the plane slightly airborne. My left tire came off the ground and I am not sure if my right one did or not. The left rudder correction I made for the airborne tire caused the plane to turn to the left. I hit the brakes (and throttled back to idle just before the left tire came airborne) and tried to steer the plane with the rudder pedals. The speed was too great to make any major directional changes on the ground. I was forced to stop in the grass of the left of runway 12."

The pilot's flight instructor, who witnessed the accident, stated: "Aircraft began takeoff roll. Everything sounded and appeared normal. About 400 ~ 500' down the runway, the left wing . . . came up, after which the aircraft swerved to the left while rolling on the right main and nose wheels. The aircraft veered off the runway and came to a stop after crossing the borrow pit next to the runway."

Both the pilot and flight instructor noted during phone interviews that the flaps were not completely retracted after the first landing. The pilot inadvertantly initiated the second takeoff with 10 degrees of flaps.

The pilot holds a student pilot and third class medical certificate issued on July 3, 2002. He reported accumulating nearly twelve (12) hours of total flight time. All of which was in the same make and model as the accident airplane, and all had been acquired within the last ninety (90) days.

The Cessna 172N airplane, S/N 17270975, completed an annual inspection on June 4, 2002, and had accumulated 7,245 hours at the time of the accident. Nearly 71 hours of those had been since the annual inspection. The Lycoming O-320 engine had acquired 546 hours since its last overhaul. The pilot reported that although the elevator control seemed "stuck" during the takeoff roll, the flight controls checked free and correct both before and after the accident. He did not report any problems with the engine.

Weather conditions at the scene were reported by the pilot as clear, ten (10) miles visibility and south-east winds at ten (10) knots. Conditions reported by the Belle-Fourche (EFC) AWOS, fifteen (15) nm to the north-west (340 degrees magnetic), at 0845 mdt, were 4,000 scattered, thirty (30) miles visibility and wind from 100 degrees at four (4) knots.

Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsis
Return to Query Page