Hat tip Sylvia from the Fear of Flying blog for finding and posting this old but amazing photograph of a Cessna 172 that flew into a Canadian house (the pilot limped away with a broken ankle) after its engine failed after take off. According to Sylvia, versions of the photo have been popping up all over the place (but she noted that she is “pretty sure the original is by Glenn Steplock and so I’ve used the version with his attribution from Airliners.net”)
The investigation by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (AVIATION REPORTS – 2001 – A01O0157) summarized the incident by noting that:
The pilot was conducting a visual flight rules local flight from the Toronto / Buttonville Municipal Airport, Ontario. When the aircraft reached about 400 to 500 feet above ground level during the initial climb after take-off from Runway 33, the aircraft engine (Lycoming O-320-H2AD) stopped. The pilot began a forced approach and attempted unsuccessfully to restart the engine. The aircraft struck a treetop and the back of a house and came to rest on the back deck of the house. The aircraft and the house were substantially damaged. The occupants of the house were not injured; however, the pilot received serious, non-life-threatening injuries. The accident occurred at 1952 eastern daylight time during daylight.
According to the accident investigation, it was not determined why the aircraft engine stopped during the initial climb right after take-off but the engine operated successfully during the engine tests and no mechanical abnormalities were noted. However, it was also noted that:
The pilot did not complete the appropriate emergency checklist, but concentrated instead on attempting to restart the engine. Directional control of the aircraft was not maintained during the forced approach, and the aircraft proceeded toward and crashed in a residential area.
My suspicion would be that the pilot may not have properly gone through all of the necessary checklists before taking off – which may have found the reason for why the engine failed. Nevertheless, he ended up in the side of the house due to the fact that he did not follow the engine failure procedure that is clearly outlined in the Cessna Aircraft Information Manual. Hence, the report is well worth reading and noting by other pilots so as to avoid a repeat of what happened.
Here is another photo from the accident report itself:
To be honest, I wondered if he accidentally hit the fuel to the off position during his power checks, leaving himself with 12 seconds of fuel before the engine cut out.