Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Aviation Accident

Quick Launch

NTSB Identification: WPR16FAMS1
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 28, 2016 in Avalon, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/06/2017
Aircraft: CESSNA 172N, registration: N739ZE
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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 flight instructor and student pilot departed for an instructional flight from an airport on an island en route back to their home airport on the mainland. A review of radar data indicated that the airplane took off with its transponder in the “off” position; therefore, no altitude information was available. The data indicated that, after taking off, the airplane flew north. The track ended 3 minutes later over open water about 5 miles north of the departure airport. After the airplane was reported missing, a search ensued. Although an oil slick consistent with drift models was present in this area, neither the airplane nor the occupants were found. 
Four minutes before the airplane took off, the reported weather at the departure airport included 9 statute miles visibility and a broken cloud ceiling at 800 ft above ground level (agl); however, the remarks section reported that the ceiling varied between 600 and 1,000 ft agl. In addition, satellite imagery indicated that there was a thick marine layer just north of the airport.


The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • Undetermined because the airplane was not located.