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N22LU accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Spring City, PA
40.176769°N, 75.547688°W

Tail number N22LU
Accident date 21 Dec 1997
Aircraft type Cessna 152
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On December 21, 1997, about 1450 eastern standard time, a Cessna 152, N22LU, was destroyed when it struck the ground while maneuvering near Spring City, Pennsylvania. The certificated private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight that originated from the Pottstown Limerick Airport, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, about 1445. No flight plan had been filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the pilot's wife, the pilot had planned to give his father a ride. The airplane was available early, and the pilot offered to give a neighbor a short airplane ride before giving his father a ride. The pilot's wife added that the passenger had flown with her husband before.

Two witnesses saw the airplane in level flight a few minutes after departure. One witness, a rated pilot reported that the airplane was about 1,000 feet above the ground, heading in a southeasterly direction. He heard a power reduction and saw the nose of the airplane pitch up to what he estimated was about 15 degrees. He thought the airplane might have entered a stall. The left wing dropped, followed by the nose of the airplane. The airplane started to rotate counter clock wise, with the nose straight down. It rotated 360 degrees and then the rotation stopped, but the nose remained pointed down, and the airplane continued to accelerate. As the airplane neared the ground, the pitch attitude of the airplane changed like the pilot was pulling out of the maneuver, and then the airplane disappeared behind trees, and impacted the ground. The witness reported that during the descent, he could hear wind noise, but not engine noise.

The other witness was standing outside of a residence when he first heard a power reduction, looked up and saw the airplane. The engine resumed power a few seconds later. He then entered his truck and was backing up in the driveway when he looked up and saw the airplane again. He said the engine was operating, when it pitched over nose first and impacted the ground. He saw a gray cloud arise from the impact.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at 40 degrees, 10 minutes, 19 seconds North Latitude and 75 degrees, 36 minutes, 16 seconds West Longitude.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land rating. He was issued a third class FAA Airman Medical certificate with no limitations on October 7, 1996. According to the pilot's flying logbook, he had a total time of 185 hours in powered airplanes, with 161 hours in the Cessna 150. He had an additional 102 hours in gliders. In the preceding 90 days, he had made one flight prior to the accident flight, on October 5, 1997, for duration of 1.0 hours, which was his last flight review.

The passenger did not hold a pilot certificate.


The airplane had impacted in an open field with patches of brush. Debris was scattered on a heading of 235 degrees, for a distance of 125 feet. The main impact crater measured 8 feet wide, 7 feet long, and was 2 feet deep. The propeller and nose landing gear strut were found in the main impact crater.

On the leading edge of the main impact crater, three ground scars were found which matched the configuration of the landing gear on the airplane. Ground scars orientated 90 degrees to the debris path, and originating from the main impact crater matched the wing span of the airplane. The marks were bowed up about 12 degrees as measured from one end to the other. According to a representative of Cessna Aircraft Company, the dihedral for the wings of a Cessna 152 was 1 degree.

The airplane was fragmented. Major pieces included the empennage, the lower cabin fuselage including the cabin floor, and the remnants of the left and right wings.

Due to the fragmentation of the airplane, flight control continuity was not confirmed. Several breaks in the flight control cables were observed. All breaks occurred at other than cable attach points, and the ends were puffed. There was no evidence of wear on any of the cables. Some of the control cables had been cut to facilitate the removal of the occupants.

The empennage was on the left side of the debris trail, forward of the main impact crater. The outboard portion of both horizontal stabilizers was bent down, while the trailing edges were bent up. Examination of the spar at the rear of the horizontal stabilizers revealed that they were deformed down in the middle. The elevator trim was found with 1.5 inches of extension, which corresponded, to a neutral trim position. The leading edge of the vertical stabilizer was crushed rearward. The rudder had separated from the vertical stabilizer.

The cabin seats were separated from the lower fuselage. One seat was intact while the back was separated from the seat pan on the other seat. The instrument panel was deformed and crushed. Control cables ran through the lower fuselage, but were jammed in the bent metal. The throttle and mixture cockpit controls were found in the full forward positions.

The wing skin on the leading edge of both wings was separated from the spar. The fuel tanks were ruptured, and partially separated from the wing. The flap drive jackscrew was found in a position that corresponded to retracted wing flaps. The shoulder harnesses were attached to the upper portion of the wings. Pieces of wing skin were found scattered ahead of the main wreckage.

The engine was separated from the airframe. The spark plugs were gray in appearance, and the electrodes were free of damage. The magnetos had separated from the back of the engine, and received impact damage. The carburetor was separated from the engine and broken open. The engine sump was destroyed. The propeller had fractured at the hub, and was recovered from the impact crater. One blade exhibited rotational scoring on the leading edge, and was bent rearward to the direction of flight.


Autopsies were performed on the occupants for the Chester County Coroners office, by Isidore Mihalakis, MD, Forensic Pathologist for Forensic Pathology Associates, Inc, in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Toxicological testing conducted on the pilot by the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was negative for drugs and alcohol.


In an interview, the flight instructor who flew the airplane earlier in the day on December 21, 1997, reported the airplane was in good shape and he experienced no problems. He had flown the airplane for about 3 hours on a cross-country flight. He did not conduct air maneuvers such as stalls on that flight. However, he had performed stalls in the airplane on other flights and reported that no problems were experienced with the airplane. The flight instructor was asked what it took to place a Cessna 152 in a spin. He reported that normal spin entry was performed in a power-on stall, and as the airplane stalled, he would then push full rudder in the direction he wished to spin. He said recovery was immediate by releasing the flight controls to neutral.

The flight instructor who performed the last flight review with the pilot reported that she had flown with the pilot several times, and said he was very safety conscious, and extra thorough. She was at the airport on the day of the accident and handed the pilot the book for the airplane. She described his pre-flights as very thorough. She had performed stalls with the pilot and found no problems with his identification of stalls, or recovery from the maneuver. She reported her method of entering a spin as starting with a power off stall, with the control yoke full back. As the airplane entered the stall, she would depress full rudder in the direction she desired to spin, and continue to hold the yoke full back. Recovery was very easy, and was accomplished by releasing the back pressure and adding rudder opposite to the direction of spin. The airplane would recover with no problems. She had flown N22LU on several occasions and found no problem with the airplane.

When the Safety Board investigator-in-charge finished his on-scene investigation, the airplane was released to a representative of the operator on December 22, 1997.

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