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N75510 accident description

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Crash location 34.978334°N, 89.453333°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city Olive Branch, MS
34.961760°N, 89.829532°W
21.3 miles away

Tail number N75510
Accident date 21 Oct 2003
Aircraft type Cessna 172N
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On October 21, 2003, about 0910 central daylight time, a Cessna 172N, N75510, registered to and operated by Douglas Aviation Inc., as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 instructional flight, crashed in Olive Branch, Mississippi. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The student pilot received fatal injuries, and the airplane incurred substantial damage. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

According to the owner of Douglas Aviation Inc., the flight school operator with whom the student had been receiving flight instruction, the student was flying the airplane in the traffic pattern practicing takeoffs and landings as part of his solo training for the FAA private pilot certificate, when the accident occurred. He further stated that the training session had begun about 0800, and student had flown the airplane to the practice area prior to returning to fly in the traffic pattern. At the time of the accident, the pilot was conducting his third unsupervised solo flight.

Witnesses at the airport stated that the airplane had just taken off from runway 18 and during the initial climb they observed it in a nose high pitch attitude, at an altitude of about 75 to 100 feet. They further stated that the airplane suddenly turned to the east, and descended straight down, impacting the ground.

Three firefighters who were at the nearby airport fire station said that they were outside at the time and they saw the airplane in a steep nose-up attitude, when all of a sudden it banked "almost inverted" to the east. They further stated that the airplane moved very little as it was turning away from them and the nose of the airplane dropped suddenly and the airplane disappeared behind a row of trees. One firefighter said the wings appeared to be almost level just prior to the airplane disappearing from view.

The airplane came to rest inverted on a northeasterly heading between runway 18 and taxiway A, about 1,800 feet north of the departure end of the runway.


The student held an FAA third class medical/student pilot certificate, issued on July 15, 2003, with the stated limitation "Holder shall wear corrective lenses".

According to records obtained from the flight school, the student had initially begun taking flying lessons on November 1, 2001, and he had stopped taking lessons on July 23, 2002 at which time he had acquired 22.3 hours of total flight experience. Records showed that he resumed flight training on August 25, 2003.

Records showed that on October 2, 2003, the student pilot's flight instructor had provided the student with an endorsement for him to fly a Cessna 172 solo, with the stated requirement that he should consult a certified flight instructor prior to making a flight. An additional restriction specified in the endorsement was that flights be conducted at the Olive Branch Airport, and when crosswind speeds were less than 5 knots.

According to information in student pilot's logbook, at the time of the accident, he had accumulated 39.7 total hours of flight time, 1.3 of which were flown solo. The last entries in his logbook were for 0.8 hours of solo flight on October 16, 2003, and .5 solo hours were flown on October 2, 2003.

According to information obtained during the course of the investigation, the student pilot had been flying the airplane for 1.1 hours when the accident occurred.


N75510 is a 1977 Cessna 172N, serial number 17267771. Records showed that the airplane was acquired by Douglas Aviation Inc. on June 10, 1994. On March 6, 2003, the airplane had received an annual inspection, and on October 14, 2003, the airplane had received its last 100-hour inspection, at which time it had accumulated a total flight time of 9,395 hours on the airframe.

The airplane was equipped with a 160-horsepower Lycoming O-320-H2AD engine, serial number L-5825-76T. At the time of the accident, the engine had accumulated 4,413 hours.


Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The Olive Branch Airport, Olive Branch, Mississippi, 0920, surface weather observation was, wind from 270 degrees at 8 knots gusting up to 14 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, sky clear, temperature 68 degrees F, dew point temperature 57 degrees F, altimeter setting 30.05 inHg.


The initial impact occurred about 200 feet west and 1,700 feet north of the departure end of runway 18, at the Olive Branch Airport. The airplane came to rest inverted, 1,830 feet north of the departure end of runway 18, with the left wing tip touching the west edge of the runway and the fuselage pointing in the direction of 060 degrees. The wreckage path was about 273 feet long and oriented on a magnetic heading of 045 degrees.

The initial impact ground scar was oriented on a heading of 85 degrees and was 25 feet in long, with the scarring being consistent with contact having been made with the airplane's left wing tip. As the ground scars progressed along the debris path, next was a propeller slash, followed my scars that were consistent with impact from the forward section of the aircraft's fuselage and its main landing gear. Impact signatures, ground scars and the crush angle at the front-bottom portion of the fuselage showed that the airplane had impacted the ground at about a 40-degree nose-down pitch angle.

A postcrash fire had not occurred, and all damage at the scene was consistent with that an impact with terrain. Successive scars were consistent with the right wing having struck the ground next, having become inverted, and sliding to its resting position at the edge of the runway.

All components necessary to sustain flight were found in the immediate vicinity of the accident site. The flight control surfaces had remained attached to the airframe except for a portion of the left aileron, and control continuity was established from the cockpit to each control surface.

The propeller was separated from the engine and was located about 10 feet to the west of the fuselage. The crankshaft was broken aft of the propeller flange and the separation surfaces displayed signatures consistent with shear and tension overloads. One propeller blade displayed a gradual bend starting at the blade root and it had twisted towards a lower pitch angle. The other propeller blade displayed abrasion to the painted surfaces at the tip and torsional bending along its entire length. The spinner had incurred impact damaged on one side, and it had been torn at the attach points.

The firewall had been crushed aft and it remained connected to the engine by two damaged engine mount tubes. The bottom of the fuselage just behind the main landing gear mounts had buckled, and the remaining aft section of the fuselage had been displaced to the left. The tailcone had separated from the forward section of the fuselage at the aft bulkhead of the baggage compartment. The empennage was positioned over the left wing.

Both doors remained attached to the fuselage. The left main gear leg remained attached to the fuselage, and the mounting structure was broken. The right main gear was displaced and displayed little damage.

During an examination of the cockpit the primer was found to be in and locked. The ignition switch was found to be off, and it had been secured at the scene. The alternator/master switch was "ON". The felt fuel tank indicated 0, and the right fuel tank was full of fuel. The oil temperature, oil pressure, ammeter, and suction and engine tachometer rpm and airspeed gauges all indicated 0. The engine tachometer indicated 9,410.6. . The engine primer was observed in the "locked" position and the fuel selector was observed in the "Both" position. The fuel selector was set to "BOTH." The directional gyro indicated 330 degrees, the vertical speed indicator showed a negative 1,800 feet per minute. The altimeter setting was 30.05. The No. 1 OBS was set to 280, and the No. 2 OBS was set to 040. The throttle was found to be about 1 inch outward, and the mixture was full rich. The pitot heat, landing light, navigation lights and alternate static source controls were al in the "OFF" position. The flap selector switch was in the "DOWN" position.

All seat belts and shoulder harnesses were intact, unlatched, and had remained attached to the fuselage. The left front seat remained in the aircraft. The cabin floor forward of the front seats was displaced upward and aft. The pilot's seat and seating assembly showed that the two rear roller assemblies remained attached to the seat rails and the two forward roller assemblies were displaced. Marks consistent with forceful removal of the locking pins were noted between the 3rd and 4th holes on each of the seat rails and both pins were bent aft about 10 degrees.

The front right seat and the rear seat back had been detached by rescue personnel and were observed next to the right wing. The cabin floor underneath the front seats had buckled downward.

When tested, the stall warning horn was found to be in working condition, and the air speed indicator displayed consistent information when air pressure was applied to the pitot tube. The left wing remained attached to the fuselage. The wing strut was broken at its mid point and a hole was punched into the wing. The outboard portion of the wing tip was bent upward about 45 degrees. The outboard 1-foot section of the aileron had separated from the airframe. The flap remained attached to the wing, and it was deployed and had incurred damage.

The right wing remained attached to the fuselage and its strut was intact. The leading edge of the wing was crushed aft, between the wing strut attach point area and the wing tip. The right flap remained attached to the wing, and it had slight damage. The flap was observed to be at about the 20-degree position. The flap actuator jackscrew measured 4 inches, consistent with the flap position being set to 20 degrees.

The right horizontal stabilizer, elevator and elevator trim tab displayed light damage. The elevator trim tab was in an upward position. The trim tab actuator measurement was 1.35 inches, consistent with a trim tab position of 5 degrees up. The rudder showed no signs of damage.

The tip of the left horizontal stabilizer had separated and the elevator was bent upward about 90 degrees. The elevator, elevator trim, and rudder had all remained affixed to the empennage to their attach points.

Both fuel tanks were free of debris and fuel samples exhibited characteristics consistent with that of aviation fuel, and there was no evidence of contamination. Residual fuel and a small amount of debris were found in the fuel strainer bowl. The fuel strainer screen was clean and free of debris.

The carburetor had the top flange fractured and the throttle plate and shaft had been displaced. The fuel screen in the carburetor had been in contact with soil and the fuel supply line had been pulled out of the threaded boss. When disassembled, no fuel was found in the carburetor and its interior was found to be clean, with all internal passages clear and unobstructed. The float was intact and unremarkable. The mixture control arm was broken against the full rich stop on the carburetor. The throttle and control linkages remained properly assembled and the carburetor heat control in the "Off" position.

The dual magneto cover had incurred damage, and the magneto clamps were loose. The magneto timing was checked and found to be correct. When tested the magneto produced spark on all towers.

All spark plugs displayed a light gray and tan colored combustion deposits, and the electrodes displayed moderate wear and had normal gap when compared to the Champion Aviation Check-A-Plug Chart.

The engine was examined and disassembled. The engine oil sump had fractured and no oil remained in the engine. No debris was found in the oil screen, and the oil filter when opened was also found to be clean. The crankshaft was rotated and continuity of the valve system and drive train was confirmed to all cylinders and to the back of the engine, and there was good compression on all cylinders. In addition, each cylinder was initially inspected using a borescope and the cylinders were removed. The cylinders displayed light tan colored combustion deposits.

No preaccident anomalies were noted with the airplanes systems, flight controls, airframe, and engine.


On October 22, 2003, postmortem examination of the accident pilot was performed by ta pathologist at the Rankin County Morgue, Pearl, Mississippi. The cause of death was attributed to multiple blunt traumatic injuries, and no findings that could be considered causal, were reported.

The FAA Toxicology Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, conducted toxicology studies on specimens from the pilot. The samples were tested for carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles and drugs. None were found to be present.


The Pilot's Operating Handbook, Section 4, Normal Procedures, specifies that flap settings in excess of 10 degrees are not approved for takeoff.


On December 8, 2003, the NTSB released the wreckage of N75510 to Mr. Timothy Geil, Claims Adjuster, Phoenix Aviation Managers (Texas) Inc.

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