Thanks for the photo.
Having the threshold so close to a publicly accessible road that doesn't belong to the airport is almost criminal.
The pilot can do whatever landing he wants to do, practice a performance landing, normal approach or it may be an emergency. The "SUV" driver was oblivious to their surroundings and careless in their consideration for an operational area. Without NTSB frame by frame and background analysis it seems the SUV was traveling fairly quickly if not faster then the approach speed of the 172?
While the tendency of citizen videographers to drop the camera, instead of documenting the accident, is perhaps irritating and regrettable (from an investigative standpoint), in this case we might cut the videographer some slack - she is the pilot's wife, and must have thought she was watching her husband die.
Pause the video at the point just before impact. The pilot was too low to begin with and he elected to perform a no-flap landing. He was probably going to float that sucker 5' off the deck halfway down the runway and if lucky he might have drug it all the way to the numbers.
Sorry he hit an SUV, scared his himself and his poor wife half to death and now has some deductibles to pay - but it was clearly the student pilot's mistake.
Yeah I agree the SUV wasn't looking but that doesn't change the fact that the guy was just too low to pull off that landing in the 1st place.
I hope he meets with his CFI, has long discussion about this, then goes on to be a competent private pilot with one hell of a story to tell.
The threshold was moved. I can't post a picture here but a picture of the runway taken from my plan is at the following. If you are going for the numbers, you will be about 4-5 ft over the road at a 3-4 degree glideslope.
I fly at that airport all the time. The A/FD is incorrect. It is not 400 feet. It is more like 20 feet. The displaced threshold was moved back a while ago. From what it looks like the pilot was on track to land just beyond the numbers. I heard on a separate news cast that the displaced threshold was move back when a break-away fence was installed. That leaves cars in danger of being hit if a pilot aims for the spot just after the threshold.
Simple risk-benefit analysis goes like this for the SUV driver:
Plan A: Don't stop, which gets you there, if you make it, a few seconds sooner, and depend on the pilot of an approaching airplane being skilled enough not to be too low, or
Plan B: Do what it says and STOP (as well as LOOK and LISTEN). You get there a few seconds later, but you get there.
I disagree strongly with the people commenting here who are focusing on flying skills, blaming the pilot, blaming the instructor. This guy was a STUDENT, not Capt. Sullenberger!
The SUV driver made a careless, stupid decision that utterly flunks any sensible risk-benefit test and nearly got both of them killed.
It is difficult to tell from the angle of the video, but the Cessna seemed way too low for a displaced threshold. Of course, there was a stop sign which I believe gave the aircraft right of way. Basically, it was bad timing and fortunately everyone is alive to argue about it.
I saw some additional footage of this from a local news source. Wow, the insurance lawyers are gonna have a field day with this one. You know, "sue everyone and see who pays up".
So many factors, it's hard to point a finger.
For sure, the airport needed to do more than spray paint "stop" on the pavement. A sign, maybe even a flashing red light and a sign warning of the active runway would be better.
The SUV clearly didn't stop but was it because he didn't see the stop or was he just disregarding it?
There is displaced thresh hold that has the start of the runway well clear of the street (look at it on satellite views). If he were right on target for the numbers, he might have missed the SUV by a nose hair and safely landed.
The pilot was low and may not have realized just how close he was cutting it and would have likely landed in the displaced area anyway. Could have added some power or a go around wouldn't have been bad either. He may not have seen the SUV at that attitude. Either way, I can cut the guy some slack because he was a solo student.
Will they go after his CFI or the school saying he didn't have adequate instruction in approaches, displaced thresh holds, etc? I hope not because we all make rookie errors and this would have been a minor one had that SUV not been in the way. How many students botch hitting the numbers and land in the displaced thresh hold at airports every day? I'll bet it happens all the time and normally with no more consequences than a chiding from their CFI if it's even witnessed.
I think the saddest part of this whole thing is that I hear the pilot has hung it up for good. While I can't fault a man for thinking of his family and the inherent risks of flight, this would have been a non-event had the SUV not been there right at that moment.
I truly hope he reconsiders and gets back in the cockpit. Even if he doesn't complete his private, which I hope he does, he needs to not let the fear consume him after an accident.
Ok, we need a real, factual confirmation on the current status of the displaced threshold.
If it's some 400ft, then the airplane had no business being 5 ft high 400 ft short of the runway threshold. It's the pilot's fault (mitigated by his student status).
If it's some 50ft, then the airplane was more or less ok being there, still a bit too low for my taste but I wouldn't judge him. But either the street or the runway threshold (or both) had no business being there. A runway can't put an airplane on approach path in a collision course with obstacles. It's the airport manager's fault (or whoever is in charge of this matter). After all, the threshold could have been and once was 400ft displaced.
Blame is one of those things that you don't need to have any less because another one has more.
The car driver should have fully stopped at the stop sign and looked both sides before proceeding. Maybe he did (the stop sign is left of the visible video frame, so we don't know). But if he did, he failed at finding the conflict.
- The sign is of very poor quality. so the owner of the road has it's share of blame here too.
- Drivers must look for other cars, trains, pedestrians, bicycles... but the shouldn't be concerned for planes. When was the last time that you saw "the car must give right of way to an airplane" in a driving course, test or law? Beyond the driver's duty to stop and look on the stop sign, a driver can logically think that if he is in a car in a publicly accessible road, he is safe of airplanes crossing his path, at least when the airplane in a normal operation.
- Stop signs are not completely effective to prevent car crashes in small streets intersections. So why trust them to prevent a crash between a car and a plane? This could have been a Baron (tha approaches at some 90kts) against a 12 Y/O kid on a bike.
So, if the threshold is not displaced 400 ft as reported, the layout of the runway and road must be changed to prevent that an airplane taking off or landing and a land vehicle (or even a pedestrian) on the road cross their paths.
Someone familiar with the airport designed some really neat freeware scenery for 52F usable in MS Flight Sim X. Apparently there are well known wind patterns to the locals flying into both 17 and 35 and this scenery includes those weather phenomenon.
I'm sure this is one more link in the accident chain...
These days being stuck-on-stupid makes you a "victim". Mr. And Mrs. Hungry Hippo in the SUV couldn't have been thinking about much other than stuffing their pie holes with a couple of double bacon cheddar burgers. Why didn't airport management make this crossing idiot-proof? Well, at least idiot-resistant.
I don't see anything wrong with what the pilot did at all. It shouldn't be his responsibility to look out for ground pounders while on short final. It looks like he was dragging it in to come down on or near the numbers. So what?
And how the heck is a pilot on very short final expected to see a vehicle streaking from right to left (below his cowling)? He was probably looking further down the runway for his flare anyway.
What part of FAILURE. TO. YIELD. are the pilot-blamers not grasping?