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N25787 accident description

Michigan map... Michigan list
Crash location 41.819723°N, 86.597500°W
Nearest city Three Oaks, MI
41.795321°N, 86.621967°W
2.1 miles away
Tail number N25787
Accident date 25 Sep 2003
Aircraft type Cessna 152
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On September 25, 2003, about 1645 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 152, N25787, piloted by a private pilot, was destroyed when it impacted trees and terrain after takeoff from a private airstrip near Three Oaks, Michigan. The personal flight was operating under 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was on file. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

A witness stated:

My brother, [the pilot], took off from the airstrip in the back of his

property for a short flight to "buzz" us and fly over the house. The

day was beautiful, sunny, scattered clouds, but gusty. We had

attempted an outdoor lunch a few hours previously but went inside due

to the wind and the chill when the sun went behind the clouds. The take-off

appeared and sounded normal to my other brother and I standing at the house

end of the airstrip watching him go. The plane banked to the right and

approximately halfway into the turn the nose of the plane pointed straight

down so that for 1/2 a second the entire plane was visible just above the

far treeline with top (roof) of the plane and the wingspan facing us

squarely. It fell straight down disappearing into the neighboring

cornfield followed immediately by a small crash sound and then silence.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate for single engine land airplanes. He reported 600 hours of total flight experience on his most recent application for an FAA third class medical certificate, which was issued on September 23, 2003. He reported that he accumulated 10 hours of flight time in the six months prior to that application. That medical certificate had a limitation that the pilot "must wear corrective lenses." The pilot recorded 473.9 hours of total flight time in his logbook. The pilot reported on his insurance renewal application that his last flight review was on January 15, 2002.


N25787, a 1978-model Cessna 152, serial number 15280784, was a high wing, propeller-driven, fixed landing gear, semi-monocoque design, two-seat airplane. The airplane was powered by a four cylinder, air cooled, horizontally opposed, normally aspirated, 110 horsepower, serial number L-15601-15, Lycoming O-235-L2C engine. The airplane was equipped with a McCauley, 2-blade, all-metal, fixed pitch propeller, model number 1A103/TCM6958M1, serial number TA020. The last annual inspection recorded in the airplane's maintenance logbooks was dated July 19, 2003. That entry showed the airplane had 4,813 hours of total time.


At 1654, the recorded South Bend Regional Airport, near South Bend, Indiana, located about 15 miles and 115 degrees from the accident site, weather was: Wind 290 degrees at 9 knots, variable between 250 and 310 degrees; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition few 3,800 feet; temperature 13 degrees C; dew point 4 degrees C; altimeter 30.07 inches of mercury.

At 1653, the recorded Southwest Michigan Regional Airport, near Benton Harbor, Michigan, located about 18 miles and 030 degrees from the accident site, weather was: Wind variable at 6 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition few 3,200 feet; temperature 13 degrees C; dew point 6 degrees C; altimeter 30.06 inches of mercury.

At 1653, the recorded Porter County Municipal Airport, near Valparaiso, Indiana, located about 30 miles and 215 degrees from the accident site weather was: Wind 220 degrees at 5 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition clear; temperature 15 degrees C; dew point 4 degrees C; altimeter 30.05 inches of mercury.


The airplane was found about 200 feet east of a northbound runway at a private airstrip. The wreckage was located at the base of a tree at latitude 41 degrees 49.189 minutes N and longitude 86 degrees 35.847 W. The tree's bark revealed scrapes above the wreckage. A section of the right wing's lower skin was found wrapped around the tree. The aileron bell crank was found in that section of skin with its cabling intact. The left wing's leading edge exhibited a semicircular shaped crush rearward. The apex of that crush was about the inboard section of the left wing. Both wing flaps were found retracted and the flap selector was at zero degrees. The empennage was deformed and displaced to the left and was found with the left wing resting on it. The propeller was found detached from the engine's crankshaft flange. Fuel was found in the left wing fuel tank. The right tank was found ruptured.

An on-scene investigation was conducted. Control continuity was established from the cockpit controls to each flight control surface. Control continuity was established from the cockpit controls to the engine. The engine's crankshaft could be rotated by hand and the engine produced a thumb compression at each cylinder. Both magnetos produced a spark at the end of each spark plug lead as the engine's crankshaft was rotated. The propeller exhibited chordwise scratches on the outboard section of one of its blades. The other blade was found with a forward bend. The carburetor's drain plug was removed and a blue colored liquid that smelled like avgas exited the drain. No contamination was observed in the blue liquid. No anomalies were detected with the airplane and engine.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Berrien County Medical Examiners Office.

The FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute prepared a Final Forensic Toxicology Accident Report. The report was negative for the tests performed.


The parties to the investigation included the FAA and Cessna Aircraft Company.

The aircraft wreckage was released to a representative of the insurance company.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot not maintaining adequate airspeed resulting in a stall during takeoff. Contributing factors were the buzzing flight and trees.

(c) 2009-2018 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.