A June 8 plane crash at the Palo Alto Municipal Airport was due to pilot error, National Transportation Safety Board investigators found.
The 26-year-old pilot of the single-engine Cessna 172P failed to maintain directional control during a landing roll, according to an Aug. 22 probable-cause report.
The pilot said he was descending toward the runway at Palo Alto Airport at 2:10 p.m. after a flight from Madera, Calif., when the accident occurred in clear weather. He had adjusted for a crosswind while the plane was 35 to 40 feet above the runway, then reduced power to idle. When he was just two feet off the ground preparing to land the plane's stall-warning horn sounded and the nose of the plane began to veer to the left, according to the report.
After the plane touched down, the pilot applied his right rudder and the plane veered off to the right. The airplane exited the right side of the runway and struck a pipe that was protruding from the ground, substantially damaging the nose gear and firewall. The pilot was not injured.
The June 8 accident was the first of three that have occurred at Palo Alto Airport this year, according to NTSB reports. A small Cessna lost power on June 23, nose-dived and flipped over as it approached the airport. Three people escaped largely unharmed.
On Tuesday (Aug. 23), a single-engine Beechcraft Musketeer lost power. The student pilot was forced to make an emergency landing in the Ravenswood Open Space Preserve in East Palo Alto. He attempted to land the plane on a gravel trail but the plane's left wing clipped a nearby tree and was partially sheared off. The aircraft veered into drained marshland and sustained damage to the wing and tail section. The pilot, 30, and his instructor were not injured.
The June 23 and Aug. 23 cases are still under investigation. Three accidents also occurred in 2010 on Feb. 17, May 3 and May 28. In the May incidents, the pilots were deemed responsible for the accidents but no one was injured, according to the NTSB.
The NTSB is still investigating the Feb. 17 crash. Three people on board the aircraft were killed when the plane hit a high-voltage tower in the baylands and crashed into an East Palo Alto neighborhood in dense fog.
Since 1982, 67 accidents have occurred at or near the Palo Alto Airport. There have been 20 incidents since 2000 with the only fatalities in the Feb. 17, 2010, crash, according to the NTSB. In the 1990s there were 15 accidents. The 1980s had 32 accidents starting in 1982. Seven people died in two separate crashes during that decade.