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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: GAA17CA035
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, October 19, 2016 in Fresno, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/13/2017
Aircraft: PIPER PA 28, registration: N5541F
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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 he flew to a tower-controlled airport to practice simulated engine failure approaches and landings. During departure following his fifth approach, he wanted to know what time it was and began looking for his phone, including reaching behind the seat to find it. He further reported that he must have been pulling back on the yoke while searching, and when he looked forward, the airplane was in a right yaw. He reported that he did not remember anything after that but believed that the airplane aerodynamically stalled and subsequently impacted the ground.
The airplane sustained substantial damage to the right wing.
The pilot reported no preaccident 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 airplane’s critical angle of attack during departure due to being distracted by looking for his phone.