Student Pilot Crashes During Premature Solo Flight

A Cessna 172 was severely damaged when a student pilot took it around the pattern without qualification to fly solo. Jerry Phan

A student pilot who was training at Fullerton Airport in southern California is in major trouble after an incident on Sunday. Too eager for his first solo, the man took a Cessna 172 from a local flying club without permission, but was unable to successfully complete his mission.

Fullerton’s airport manager Brendan O’Reilly said the student pilot had recently joined the RI Flying Club, which had the Cessna 172 as part of its fleet. O’Reilly said the flying club has been operating at the airport for more than 30 years without any incidents. The student pilot was not qualified to fly the airplane solo, but somehow snagged the keys and took the airplane to the skies.

The student pilot made not one, not two, not three, not four, but five attempts at landing, each time messing up the airplane more. According to local pilot Jerry Phan, the airplane suffered damage to the propeller, engine, nose gear and more. Fortunately for the student pilot, he did not injure himself or anyone on the ground.

Not only was the airplane damaged in the highly unusual incident, but it is likely that the student pilot’s criminal record will be as well. According to Phan, the owner of the Cessna has filed charges of aircraft theft. Phan said the student pilot had only received two hours of flight instruction with the flying club.

Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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