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N828MB accident description

Minnesota map... Minnesota list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Orr, MN
48.053527°N, 92.831002°W
Tail number N828MB
Accident date 03 Sep 1995
Aircraft type Cessna 172M
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On September 3, 1995, at 0930 central daylight time, a float equipped Cessna 172M, N828MB, was destroyed when it impacted the water during landing on Ash Lake, near Orr, Minnesota. The private pilot sustained fatal injuries, and the sole pilot rated passenger reported minor injuries. The personal flight originated in Crane Lake, Minnesota, about 0900, and was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91 in visual meteorological conditions. No flight plan was filed.

A witness to the accident, a private pilot who was observing the airplane from the north shore of the lake, reported that he observed the airplane "enter the pattern" from the northeast at an altitude of 800 to 1,000 feet above the lake with the engine "running." The airplane flew to the southwest, turned, and flew a final approach toward the northeast. He reported that the airplane appeared "fast" on final and didn't flare prior to impacting the water. Upon impact it "nosed over to the right." He noted that the water was "glassy smooth" at the time of the accident.

The pilot rated passenger reported in his written statement that the pilot flew a "steep" final approach. The water was glassy smooth. As the airplane approached the water, the pilot rated passenger looked to the right to "find reference to the tree line." Before he could "look back out the front of the plane", the airplane impacted the water.


The NTSB on-scene investigation began on September 6, 1995, at 0930. The wreckage had been towed to the north shore of Ash Lake.

The primary airframe remained intact. The struts for both floats were fractured, separating the floats from the fuselage. The fractures exhibited necking and no evidence of progressive failure when visually inspected. The front portion of the left float was bent in the downward direction and fractured immediately forward of the front horizontal strut. The lower engine cowl was crushed upward and the propeller was removed. The windscreen was fractured into multiple pieces. Only the fragments remaining in the frame were recovered. Skin wrinkling was observed in the cabin area, both wings, and the tailcone. The upper leading edges of the right wing, and the left wing from midspan inboard, were crushed slightly inward.

The left front seatbelt was cut and the buckle was fastened. The shoulder harness fittings were not inserted in the buckle. The right front seatbelt buckle was unfastened.

All flight controls operated normally when tested. Examination of the engine revealed no evidence of preimpact malfunction. Engine compression and continuity were verified. The left magneto sparked when the impulse coupling was turned. The propeller exhibited minor scratching and minor leading edge damage with no bending.


Autopsy of the pilot was conducted by the St. Louis County Medical Examiner. The diagnoses specified "fresh water drowning" and "multiple soft tissue contusions, abrasions, and lacerations."

Toxicological testing was negative for all tests conducted.


Airframe basic weight and balance data, dated April 5, 1995, was recovered from the wreckage. Refueling records indicate 19 gallons were onloaded at Crane Lake. The pilot's weight reported on his FAA Medical, April 1, 1994, was 165 pounds. The passenger's weight was estimated by a St. Louis County Deputy. The aircraft weight and balance was calculated.

Item Weight Arm Moment

Basic (5/1/95) 1,600 38.4 61,460

Oil, 8 quarts 15 -13.3 -200

Fuel, full 228 47.8 10,900

Pilot 165 37.0 6,105

Passenger 200 40.0 8,000

Equipment 10 73.0 730


Takeoff Total 2,218 39.2 86,995

Less three gallons -18 47.8 -860

Accident total 2,200 39.1 86,135

The Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) for the Cessna Model 172M floatplane specifies a forward center of gravity limit of 39.6 for a gross weight of 2,200 pounds.


Parties to the investigation were the Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Cessna Aircraft Company, and Textron Lycoming.

Following the on-scene portion of the investigation, the wreckage was released to Mr. Thomas McCue, the manager of the Ely Lake Seaplane Base.

NTSB Probable Cause

the pilot misjudged the landing flare. Factors associated with the accident were the visual illusion caused by the glassy smooth water condition and the forward center of gravity.

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