Student Pilot Had Accumulated About 50 Flight Hours

Location: Santa Maria, CA Accident Number: WPR20LA152
Date & Time: 05/20/2020, 1043 PDT Registration: N883PJ
Aircraft: Cirrus SR20 Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation – Personal

On May 20, 2020, about 1043 Pacific daylight time, a Cirrus SR20 airplane, N883PJ, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Santa Maria, California. The student pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 solo cross country flight.

There were several witnesses who observed the airplane prior to the accident. A witness reported that the airplane was flying lower than normal. He observed the airplane oscillate, followed by an engine power increased and then the airplane straightened out. Shortly thereafter, the power decreased, and it started to oscillate as it went out of view. Another witness observed the airplane with it’s wings perpendicular to the ground as it descended out of view. And a third witness said his attention was drawn to the airplane when he heard a “loud hissing sound,” which sounded like a “large bottle rocket.” He looked up and saw the airplane abruptly turn left and descend like a corkscrew.

The student pilot’s flight instructor reported that he has been in flight training since September 2019, and had accumulated about 50 flight hours. The accident flight was the student pilot’s third solo flight, and second cross country. They had flown the same route as the accident flight at least twice together, and the student pilot flew it once on his own about one week prior to the accident.

The airplane has been recovered to a secure location for further examination.