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On September 2, 2007, at 1508 central daylight time, a Cessna 172M, N1502V, collided with the terrain following a loss of control while maneuvering at a low altitude over residences in Union Star, Missouri. The solo student pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed by impact with the terrain and a post impact fire. The Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight was operating in visual meteorological conditions without a flight plan. The local flight originated from the Rosecrans Memorial Airport (STJ), St. Joseph, Missouri, at 1347.
Several witnesses in the area reported hearing and seeing the airplane prior to the accident. One witness reported seeing the airplane circle his property eight times. He reported that during the last circle the airplane was extremely low and in a very steep left bank. As the airplane cleared his house, it nosed straight down, hitting a power line with the left wing prior to striking the ground. He stated the airplane caught fire when it impacted the ground.
Another witness reported seeing the airplane "buzz" his house four times at very low altitudes. He stated the airplane was diving and climbing as it flew over.
Another witness estimated the airplane's altitude as being 150 to 200 feet above the ground as it circled over the area making shallow climbs and descents. She stated the airplane then made a slight climb in a steep left bank over her neighbor's house prior to descending nose first into the ground.
One witness reported seeing the pilot throw something out of the airplane attached to a parachute or balloon. Missouri State Highway Patrol searched the area and nothing matching her description was found. This witness stated that the pilot was a friend of her brother who lived in a near-by house.
The student pilot, age 17, held a student pilot certificate that was issued on May 15, 2007. The pilot had a total flight time of 22.7 hours of which 7.2 hours had been logged as solo flight time. All of the pilot's flight time was logged in Cessna 172 airplanes. The pilot's logbook contained an endorsement for solo flight dated June 25, 2007.
The student pilot was a member of the Civil Air Patrol and according to his flight instructor he had received his initial flight training at the National Flight Academy in St. Joseph, Missouri, earlier in the summer. The instructor stated he spoke with the pilot on the morning of the accident and had instructed him to practice ground reference maneuvers, steep turns, and stalls in the practice area 10 miles west of STJ. The instructor stated the student pilot had family that lived near the accident site.
The accident airplane was a Cessna 172M, serial number 17263631. Aircraft records indicate the airplane had undergone an annual inspection on January 15, 2007. The airplane had a total time of 3,446.8 hours at the last annual inspection.
The airplane was equipped with a Lycoming O-320-E2D, serial number L-38641-27A, engine. The engine had accumulated approximately 1,360 hours since last major overhaul.
A weather observation station located at STJ, about 20 nautical miles southwest of the accident site, recorded the weather at 1453 as being: Wind from 200 degrees at 5 knots, 10 miles visibility, sky clear, temperature 30 degrees Celsius, dew point 13 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 30.10 inches of mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane came to rest approximately 55 feet north-northwest of a residence located on County Road 223 in Union Star, Missouri. The on-scene examination of the airplane was conducted by inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration, Flight Standard District Office, Kansas City, Missouri.
A utility pole was positioned approximately 3 feet from the left wingtip of the airplane. The center section of the airplane from the engine to aft of the rear seats was destroyed by fire leaving the aft fuselage and wings separated from the remainder of the airplane. The empennage was intact having sustained minor impact and heat damage.
The leading edge of both wings was crushed rearward. Both the inboard and outboard ends of the right wing sustained fire and heat damage. The inboard section of the left wing sustained fire and heat damage with the outboard section of the left wing being intact. The aileron and flap surfaces remained attached to both wings. The aileron cables remained attached to the cockpit controls and the flight control surfaces, but had been cut near the center wing area by rescue workers. The elevator and rudder cables were connected to the cockpit flight controls and were severed where the empennage section was separated from the remainder of the airplane. The flap actuator indicated the flaps were in the retracted position. The elevator trim setting was measured to be 1.3 inches which equates to approximately 5 degrees of tab up trim.
The engine sustained heat and fire damage. The propeller remained attached to the engine. The propeller, with the exception of approximately 10 inches of one blade tip, was buried in the ground. One propeller blade was straight. The other blade was bent rearward and twisted. Both propeller blades contained chordwise scratching and leading edge polishing.
Both the mixture and throttle controls were full forward and the fuel selector was selected to the "both" position.
Examination of the wreckage failed to reveal any mechanical failure/malfunction that would have resulted in the accident.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Medical Examiner's Office, Jackson County, Missouri, on September 3, 2007. The final autopsy report listed the cause of death as "Multiple blunt force injuries."
A Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report was prepared for the pilot by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The results for tests performed were negative.