On February 26, 2009, about 1400 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28-161, N616FT, operated by Florida Institute of Technology, was substantially damaged during a hard landing at Melbourne International Airport (MLB), Melbourne, Florida. The certificated flight instructor (CFI) and student pilot were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local instructional flight which was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the student pilot, the purpose of the instructional flight was to practice crosswind landings utilizing the wing low attitude as described in the training program. The flight was to be the student pilot's last flight in preparation for his first solo flight. The CFI who was giving the instruction reported that the airplane was landed hard with a sideload. Inspection of the airplane after the flight revealed a crack in the right wing's rear spar. The student pilot reported that there were no mechanical malfunctions with the airplane during the flight.

The CFI, age 25, held a commercial pilot certificate and a CFI certificate for airplane single-engine, multiengine, and instrument airplane. Her most recent application for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first-class medical certificate was issued on May 22, 2008. According to documentation provided by the flight school on December 2, 2010, she had 1,410 total hours of flight experience, of which 1,356 total hours of flight experience were in airplane single-engine, and 1,068 total hours of flight experience as a flight instructor.

The student pilot, age 49, held a student pilot certificate. His most recent FAA third-class medical was issued on November 8, 2008. His flight experience at the time of the accident was 33 total hours of flight time in the same make and model of the accident airplane.

The 1353 recorded weather observation at MLB included winds from 100 degrees at 10 knots, visibility 10 miles, scattered clouds at 4,000 feet, temperature 29 degrees C, dew point 9 degrees C; altimeter 30.27 inches of mercury. In a review of the surface observations for MLB around the time of the accident the wind direction varied from 070 degrees to 100 degrees and was at 10 knots for all recorded observations.

The National Transportation Safety Board was notified of the accident on November 18, 2010.

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