Highest Ground Speed Recorded Was 75 Knots Before The Speed Rapidly Decreased

Location: Pembroke Pines, FL Accident Number: ERA23FA323
Date & Time: August 4, 2023, 12:01 Local Registration: N697FL
Aircraft: Cessna 172 Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Other work use

On August 4, 2023, at 1201 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172P, N697FL, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident at North Perry Airport (HWO), Pembroke Pines, Florida, the flight instructor, and the front seat passenger sustained fatal injuries, and the rear seat passenger was seriously injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 sightseeing flight. According to family members of the passengers, the purpose of the flight was a scenic tour of downtown Miami.

The airplane departed HWO on runway 10R, a 3,255 ft-long, 100 ft-wide, asphalt runway. Two security videos from different angles showed the airplane as it rotated and lifted off normally; however, shortly after liftoff, the airplane’s angle of attack increased dramatically until the airplane reached about 150 ft above ground level. The airplane then began a left descending turn before the left wing dropped and the airplane struck level terrain on airport property about 650 ft northeast of the departure end of the runway. Preliminary Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data showed the airplane on the takeoff roll as its ground speed increased to about 45 knots; there was about a 10 second gap in track and airspeed data until ADS-B data resumed and showed the airplane at about 74 knots ground speed and 50 ft mean sea level. The highest ground speed recorded was 75 knots before the speed rapidly decreased near the end of the flight.

The airplane impacted the ground in a steep left turn, nose down attitude before coming to rest upright; the wreckage was oriented on a heading of 287° at an elevation of 12 ft. Both wings were impact separated. The wreckage path was compact, and all major components and flight control surfaces remained attached. There was no postimpact fire. 

The fuselage was buckled and compressed through about 50% of the cockpit area with the most severe damage in the front seat area and floorboards. The engine compartment was significantly compromised by impact forces, displacing the engine and propeller upward and slightly aft into the firewall, which also displaced the instrument panel. The empennage remained relatively undamaged from about 2 ft aft of the cockpit area. Examination of the seat tracks and seat frames did not reveal any aft slipping or preimpact failures. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit to all control surfaces. The left and right flaps were in about the 95% stowed position and the flap actuator was consistent with the flaps retracted at the time of impact. The elevator trim was found in the nearly full up (nose down) position. Examination of the elevator trim jackscrew revealed impact damage that destroyed the trim control unit. The elevator trim control position indicator in the cockpit could not be observed due to impact damage.

A total of about 24 gallons of fuel that was consistent with aviation gasoline was drained from both fuel tanks. Subsequent fuel testing revealed negative results for water and trace amounts of foreign debris when examining the gascolator. The carburetor was removed, and the floats contained hydraulic deformation, consistent with fuel present in the bowl during impact. The engine crankshaft was manually rotated to verify crankshaft continuity, compression, and suction via the accessory drive for the vacuum pump. Continuity was confirmed and all pistons, valves springs and pushrods operated normally. Suction and compression were attained on each of the 4 cylinders. Both left and right magnetos were removed and manually operated; both magnetos produced spark at each of the posts. All the spark plugs displayed 
normal coloration and normal electrodes as compared to the Champion Aerospace AV-27 Check-A-Plug chart.

Both propeller blades showed evidence of abrasive polishing on the outer 12 inches of blade tip. One blade contained a compound S-bend and twist and bending in the opposite direction of rotation. Preliminary weight and balance calculations indicated that the airplane was within its center of gravity and weight limits at the time of the accident.

A Garmin GNS 750 multi-function display was recovered from the wreckage and forwarded to the NTSB Recorders Laboratory, Washington, DC, for data download.

The wreckage was retained for further examination.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov