The National Transportation Safety Board released the following preliminary report today on the plane
crash that took place in Sunset Park on August 29.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.
On August 29, 2011, about 1427 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 172M, N5155Q, was substantially damaged when it impacted a tree and collided into a wall and the side of a private residence after a go-around from the Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO), Santa Monica, California. The student pilot, the sole occupant, was seriously injured, and two of the three painters who were working outside the home sustained minor injuries. The airplane was registered to Planeminder LLC and operated by Justice Aviation under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a planned solo flight to Santa Barbara, California. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The airplane departed SMO about 1423.
According to the student pilot, following completion of the pretakeoff checks, the flight was cleared for takeoff. A few seconds after liftoff the student observed that the airspeed indicator was malfunctioning. The indicator’s needle suddenly increased and then decreased until reaching zero miles per hour (mph). The student pilot informed the SMO air traffic controller that he had experienced an airspeed indicator failure and wanted to return for landing. About 1 minute later the controller cleared the pilot to land on runway 21, from which he had just departed.
The student pilot proceeded to climb the airplane into the traffic pattern and kept the airplane closer to the runway, which resulted in it being higher than normal on short final approach and crossing over the landing threshold. As the airplane approached the last 1/4 of the runway, it was about 30 to 40 feet above the runway’s surface when the pilot was directed to go around by the SMO controller.
The student pilot reported that he acknowledged the air traffic instruction, raised the wing flaps, and pushed the engine’s throttle full forward. Thereafter, the student pilot observed power lines in front of the airplane, and he maneuvered right and left to avoid them.
The airplane initially collided with a tree located about 900 feet west of the departure end of runway 21. The distance between the impacted tree top and the main wreckage, located partially on top of a block wall, is about 85 feet. The engine and instrument panel were displaced in upward and aft directions.
The airplane has been recovered from the accident site and retained for further examination of the airframe structure and engine.