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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: GAA16CA002
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, October 01, 2015 in Avalon, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/17/2015
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration: N4286Q
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that during his first approach to land he elected to go-around due to the crab angle and buffeting. On the second approach, he encountered downdrafts and moderate turbulence again on short final and applied power to go-around. During the go-around, the airplane continued to sink and impacted a cliff about 250 feet short of the runway threshold, and ultimately came to rest at the bottom of the cliff near a road. The fuselage and both wings sustained substantial damage.

According to the airport manager, when the airplane was on final approach he announced on the common traffic advisory frequency, "wind 250 at 11 and use caution for down drafts and turbulence on short final." The accident pilot acknowledged the transmission. The airport manager continued to observe the airplane and witnessed the pitch angle continuously increase on final approach, and then he heard the engine power increase. Subsequently, the airport manager witnessed the airplane "stall" and "fall from view."

The pilot reported there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.


The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot's exceedance of the critical angle of attack in turbulent and downdraft conditions, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and collision with terrain on final approach.