Preliminary report on Fredericksburg plane crash

On July 22, a single engine Cessna 172M (tail number N61954), was destroyed when it collided with terrain while maneuvering near Shannon Airport in Fredericksburg, Va. The private pilot was fatally injured.

The accident airplane was operated by a flight school located at Shannon Airport. A flight instructor who worked for the flight school stated that he had met the accident pilot about three months before the accident, and had performed a checkout flight with the pilot so that he could rent the flight school’s airplanes. The pilot had subsequently flown the school’s airplanes several times between the date of the checkout and the accident flight.

On the day of the accident, the pilot utilized the flight school’s internet-based computerized scheduling system to reserve a flight in N61954. He arrived at the airport shortly thereafter. The flight instructor who had previously flown with the accident pilot was at the flight school at the time, preparing for an upcoming flight with another student.

“According to the flight instructor, he and the pilot had a brief conversation about work, their recent flying activities, and the current weather conditions,” the National Transportation Safety Board said in their preliminary report. “The flight instructor reported that the pilot seemed to be in good spirits and was not otherwise behaving abnormally. After retrieving the paperwork required to dispatch the airplane, along with the keys from where they were normally secured, the pilot said goodbye to the instructor and proceeded to the airplane.

The flight instructor next saw the accident airplane as it performed a low pass down the runway and then began maneuvering erratically in the vicinity of the airport. The airplane then climbed to an estimated altitude of 3,000 feet before it pitched down and descended in a near-vertical attitude. During the descent, the engine sounded as if it were producing 'full' power, and the airplane subsequently impacted the ground about 200 feet northwest of the runway.”

The aircraft is registered to Cross Flot Aviation, Inc., Fairfax, Va., according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

The crash is still under investigation.

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