Plane crash map Find crash sites, wreckage and more

N65906 accident description

Go to the Florida map...
Go to the Florida list...

Tail numberN65906
Accident dateJanuary 18, 2003
Aircraft typeCessna 172P
LocationEdgewater, FL
Near 28.926389 N, -80.848889 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On January 18, 2003, about 1225 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172P, N65906, registered to Central Florida Air Maintenance, Inc., and operated by Comair Aviation Academy, Inc., as a 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight, crashed near Edgewater, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and a company flight plan was filed. The airplane was destroyed and the commercial-rated pilot and three passengers received fatal injuries. The flight originated from Sanford, Florida, the same day, about 1203.

A pilot located in another airplane, to the east and 1,000 feet above N65906, stated he and his flight instructor "were flying some aerobatic maneuvers in our Pitts S2B N260AB. We had been traveling up and down the Intercoastal Waterway for about an hour or so. I gave the controls to Brian so he could fly a little; I believe we had just come out of a spin when we first caught sight of the plane. We were on a westerly coarse and the traffic was at our low 1 o'clock. Because it was so close we decided to watch and see what it was going to do. For some reason something in me said that there was something not right about the way the plane was flying, I do not know that it was, just something about it. As I watched I all of a sudden saw it kind of start to turn and then just snap into a dive very fast. As I looked on something separated from the wing, something large. A few seconds later the plane impacted the ground hard on an island in the Intercoastal." He stated as N65906 turned prior to the entry into the dive, it turned to the right. After the airplane entered the dive the wings were perpendicular to the beach with the top of the wings facing north. When the part separated from the airplane it was from the wing closest to the beach. When the airplane impacted the ground it was in a flat attitude, bottom side up. When they flew over the wreckage he noticed the wing to the west was missing the outboard section. As soon as they observed the accident the flight instructor called on the emergency frequency 121.5 MHz and reported the accident to the FAA Daytona Beach Approach. The weather was clear at the time of the accident.

The flight instructor stated "on Saturday Jan 18, around 12 noon, I was on an instructional aerobatic flight with an Embry Riddle Student. We were flying over the intercostal waterway (river) east of Edgewater FL between altitudes of 6000 and 3000 feet MSL. I was keeping my eye on another aircraft in my vicinity, which appeared to be a high wing single engine Cessna. The aircraft was at all times below me at around 500 to 1000 feet. I believe the aircraft was on a heading between about 190 and 230 degrees flying straight and level. I turned my head away for probably less than ten seconds and when I looked back at the Aircraft it was in a nearly vertical down attitude a few hundred feet lower than when I initially spotted the aircraft and on a heading of around 270 (I believe the back side of the wings were paralleling the beach). NOTE: I was using the Beach as a North-South Reference to determine headings. The aircraft was not in a spin at this time and appeared to be "pushing" farther beyond vertical (past 90 degrees straight down possibly up to 110-120 degrees). I thought, "what are they doing, it looks like they are trying to fly up-side down." The next thing I witnessed was a forced spin similar to a snap roll while still vertical down. I also saw some pieces come off the aircraft the biggest being what looked like the size of a control surface or flap. Unfortunately, I do not recall which event came first, the spin, or the pieces coming off the aircraft. This event happened after the aircraft lost about 75% of its altitude. About 1-3 seconds after the spin the aircraft impacted an island in the river. I am guessing that from when I saw the aircraft going straight down until the time it hit was about 5-7 seconds. I continued to orbit the area while making an emergency call on 121.5 MHz." He did not recall any turbulence in the area at the time.

A witness located on a boat about 200 yards from the accident site stated it was sunny with good visibility and the wind was at 10 mph at the most. A stunt airplane had been flying overhead throughout the morning. About 1200, the tide was going out. He was facing southwest to west. He heard the stunt airplane but he also heard another airplane engine, which was running, followed by the sound of impact. Out of the corner of his eye he saw something fall. He also heard a sound similar to a kite with a tail flapping. He saw some debris fly up after impact. He then went to the scene in his boat. Another airplane was circling overhead. He approached the airplane wreckage and observed one person and then went to the ranger's station to the east to report the accident.

Another witness located in a recreational vehicle (RV) park to the west of the accident site stated she was watching an aerobatic airplane to the east. She then saw another airplane to the northeast going straight down. One wing tip was pointing to the southeast and the airplane was not spinning. She could not see the registration numbers and then went back inside. She heard about the airplane accident the next morning.

Another witness located on a boat 1/2 mile east of the accident site reported seeing a bi-plane to his left, which was also loud. He then saw the accident airplane to his right. The accident airplane was nose down, not vertical, and he then observed it hit the ground and he observed a dust cloud. He then observed something coming down in a circular motion. The accident airplane was making a very loud high pitched noise.

Recorded radar data obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Daytona Beach Approach Control, showed the accident flight maintained 3,300 feet from 1221:45 until 1223:27. The flight was flying on a southerly heading during this time. Between 1223:32 and 1224:18, the flight maintains 3,400 feet while continuing to fly a southerly heading, and the calibrated airspeed (derived by applying estimated winds aloft to radar derived ground speed) dropped to 59 knots at 1224:15. Between 1224:22 and 1224:41, the flight maintained 3,500 feet, and the calibrated airspeed increased to 80 knots at 1224:30. At 1224:45, the flight was at 3,300 feet and at 1224:50, the flight was at 3,200 feet. Calibrated airspeed decreased to 65 knots. At 1224:55, the flight was at 3,300 feet, and the calibrated airspeed decreased to 60 knots. At 1224:59, the flight was at 3,300 feet, and the calibrated airspeed was about 58 knots. At 1225:04, the flight is at 3,200 feet and the calibrated airspeed is at 53 knots. The flight had maintained a southerly heading throughout this time. No further radar data was recorded for the accident flight. Radar data also showed that the airplane flown by the two witnesses was to the east of the accident airplane at 4,400 feet.


The pilot held a FAA commercial pilot certificate with airplane single and multiengine land and instrument airplane privileges, last issued on October 12, 2002. The pilot held a FAA flight instructor certificate with airplane single engine privileges issued on December 30, 2002. The pilot held a FAA first-class medical certificate issued on February 25, 2002, with limitations that corrective lenses be worn while exercising the privileges of the certificate. According to information provided by the airplane operator and the pilot's logbook, at the time of the accident the pilot had accumulated about 295 total flight hours, with about 120 hours in the Cessna 172. The pilot had about 266 total flight hours in single engine airplanes. The pilot had about 61 hours simulated instrument time, about 7 hours actual instrument time, and about 26 hours of night time. The pilot had flown about 42 hours in the last 90 days, about 14 hours in the last 30 days, and about 1 flight hour in the last 24 hours. The pilot was located in the right front seat of the airplane after the accident.

The person seated in the left front seat of the airplane after the accident was the pilot's brother-in-law. A search of FAA records did not show any records that he held a FAA pilot certificate.


The airplane was a Cessna Aircraft Company model 172P, serial number 17275918, manufactured in 1982. The airplane was equipped with a Lycoming model O-320-D2J reciprocating engine, which produces 160 horsepower. The airplane was equipped with a McCauley model 1C160/DTM propeller, which contained two blades.

Maintenance records showed that at the time of the accident the airplane had accumulated about 9,070 total flight hours. The airplane was last inspected on January 3, 2003, when it received a 100 hour inspection. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accumulated about 52 flight hours since this inspection. The engine had accumulated about 543 flight hours since overhaul, and the propeller had accumulated 9,070 total flight hours. The airplane's static system, altimeter, and transponder were last tested on November 29, 2001. The emergency locator transmitter was removed for maintenance on January 3, 2003, and was not installed at the time of the accident.

Weight and balance calculations performed by the pilot prior to takeoff showed the airplanes takeoff weight was 2,399 pounds and the center of gravity was located at 44.15 inches aft of the datum. He reported the airplane had 38 gallons of fuel at the time of takeoff. The aircraft operator calculated the airplane had approximately 30 gallons of fuel at the time of departure. Five gallons had been added just prior to the flight. The airplanes maximum allowable takeoff weight is 2,400 pounds and the center of gravity limits at this weight are 39.5 inches aft of the datum forward limit and 47.3 inches aft of the datum aft limit. NTSB calculations show that at the time of the accident the airplane weighed approximately 2,346 pounds and the center of gravity was approximately 43.9 inches aft of the datum.


The Daytona Beach International Airport, Daytona Beach, Florida, 1253 surface weather observation was wind from 290 at 8 knots gusting to 15 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, sky condition few clouds at 8,000 feet, temperature 48 degrees F, dewpoint temperature 18 degrees F, altimeter setting 30.26 inHg. Daytona Beach International Airport is located 22 nm from the accident site on a bearing of 325 degrees. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.

Winds aloft information obtained by NTSB from NOAA showed that at the location and altitude N65906 entered the dive, the winds were from approximately 293 degrees at 10 knots.


The airplane wreckage was located on an island in the Intracoastal Waterway about two and half miles east of Edgewater, Florida, at latitude 28 degrees 55 minutes 34.8 seconds North and longitude 80 degrees 50 minutes 55.7 seconds West. The airplane was found inverted in a level pitch attitude on a heading of 220 degrees. The outboard portion of the left wing, 10 feet in length, was recovered approximately 150 feet east of the main wreckage, in a wooded area. An outboard section of the right aileron, two feet in length, was also located to the east of the main wreckage, in the wooded area, about 30 feet southeast of the outboard right wing. Pieces of the left and right fiberglass wing tips were located about 800 feet east of the main wreckage along with papers and interior components from inside the airplane.

Examination of the airplane at the accident site showed flight control cable continuity was established from the elevator, rudder, and elevator trim surfaces to the cockpit controls. Both right aileron control cables were attached at the bell crank in the right wing and the left aileron cables separated in overstress just inboard of the outboard flap rib in the area of the wing separation. The remainder of the left aileron cables continued through the separated portion of wing and was attached to the left aileron bell crank. Continuity was established from the separation points at the left outboard flap rib to the cockpit controls and from the right wing aileron to the cockpit controls. Wing flap cable continuity was established for both flaps. The wing flap actuator was found in the 30 degree, fully extended position. The elevator trim actuator was found in the 5 degree tab down or aircraft nose up position.

Examination of the cockpit at the accident scene showed the throttle was in the idle position and the carburetor heat was in the on position and both controls were bent. The mixture control was in the full rich position and was damaged. The flap control was set at 10 degrees and bent over. The airspeed indicator and attitude indicator had been destroyed by impact forces. The altimeter read 500 feet with an altimeter setting of 30.27. The turn and bank indicator showed full left wing down and the ball was free. The heading indicator displayed 310 degrees. The tachometer indicated 1,000 rpm and 2,728.4 flight hours. The ignition switch was on both and on-scene testing showed that it was functioning properly. The master switch was found in the on position. The fuel selector was found in the both position and on-scene testing showed it was functioning properly. Both fuel tanks were breached and several gallons of blue colored fuel were observed in the impact crater. The left control yoke outboard horn was found broken and the yoke was separated from the column. The right control yoke separated from the column and both horns were broken off the yoke.

Further examination of the airplane at the accident scene showed that the left and right front seats had been removed from the airplane by rescue personnel during removal of the occupants. The front seat occupants had been wearing the lap belts and shoulder harnesses and these had been cut by rescue personnel. The rear seat occupants had been wearing the lap belts and these were cut by rescue personnel. The rear seats did not have shoulder harnesses. The front seat tracks were in place on the cabin floor and had received impact damage. The front and aft anti-slip seat pins were in place on the left and right front seat tracks. The left front seat inboard seat track was torn at the fourth hole from the front. The rear seat was in place after the accident.

Examination of the fuselage showed the fuselage was destroyed by impact forces. The aircraft was laying inverted and rolled approximately 10 degrees to the right. The lower fuselage skin splice at the baggage compartment was pulled apart approximately four inches in tension, due to impact forces, partially separating the tail cone from the forward fuselage. The cabin roof had collapsed inward from the windscreen to the aft baggage compartment bulkhead and the instrument panel inside was crushed aft. The main landing gear were still attached to the airplane.

The right wing remained attached to the airplane and was deformed downward and rearward. The front spar of the right wing was buckled but remained partially intact. The right wing strut was separated at the wing attachment and bent 90 degrees at its mid span and 90 degrees in the opposite direction approximately six inches from the fuselage attachment point. The inboard half of the right aileron remained attached to the wing and the right aileron control rod was broken in overstress at the clevis. The right flap was partially separated from the wing but remained intact.

The left wing had failed in downward bending approximately 20 inches outboard of the wing strut attachment. Both the front and rear spars on the left wing had severed with the rear spar severing inboard of the where the front spar separated. The left wing strut remained attached to the wing but had separated from the fuselage. The left aileron remained attached to the section of the left wing that had separated. The left flap remained attached to the inboard section of the wing that had remained with the airplane.

The vertical stabilizer was bent 90 degrees to the left and the rear spar separated about ten inches above the

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.