NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The student pilot had accrued approximately 46 hours of flight time and was to fly 1.5 hours solo to practice landings at a nearby airport. A review of available radar data indicated that the airplane departed on an easterly heading, climbed to an altitude of 3,200 feet msl, and established a varying ground speed of 84 to 94 knots. Radar data indicated that following two 180-degree turns, the airplane was at 3,300 feet msl, heading 089 degrees, with a ground speed of 49 knots. After 2 minutes and 51 seconds, the altitude started decreasing. Radar contact was lost at an altitude of 1,600 feet msl. A witness observed the airplane descending straight down with no rotation, and he watched it until it went out of view behind some trees. This witness could see the bottom of the airplane's wings and fuselage, and thought that it was a model airplane until he saw black smoke rising from behind the trees. An examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted on the top of a levee, and the engine was found embedded 4.5 feet in the ground within the initial impact crater. No anomalies were found with the airframe or engine that would have prevented normal operation.