Civil Air Patrol Plane Noses Over on Landing

Civil Air Patrol Cessna C172P, N9474L

By CFI Pilot | AuxBeacon News Contributor

[Editor’s Note: We received this from one of our reader’s. Thank you for your contribution. This Civil Air Patrol plane crash in New Mexico Wing was caused by pilot error.]


  • 9 June 2004, [N9474L] Returned from a CAP/DEA Counter Drug mission, C-172P
  • Private Pilot (74) and Observer (64)
  • Returning at night with a low voltage light
  • Turning final, another aircraft takes the runway
  • Pilot goes around and maneuvers to land
  • Aircraft impacts a mesquite brush mound, separating the nose wheel
  • Aircraft nosed over and slides into a fence
  • Minor injuries

Shortly after takeoff, the low voltage light illuminated and the pilot elected to return to land. The pilot transmitted on the Unicom frequency that he was “turning base to final for runway 26” when in fact he was turning base to final for runway 22. The pilot of another airplane heard this report and elected to take off on runway 22. The pilot of the accident airplane sighted the other aircraft on the runway and elected to make a 360-degree turn for spacing purposes. During the turn, the airplane struck large mesquite bushes and was destroyed when it collided with terrain. Prior to the flight, the pilot performed three takeoffs and landings to a full stop to renew his night flight currency for the carriage of passengers. His last night flight was on September 1, 2003. According to the pilot, he had flown 6.9 hours on the day of the accident.

Probable Cause
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: the pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from terrain and the improper go-around procedure. Contributing factors include the pilot’s diverted attention, improper in-flight planning and decision making, pilot fatigue, the night conditions and the mesquite bushes.

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