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The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Air Safety Institute (ASI) released a new video from its Early Analysis series providing an initial examination of a recent tragic accident involving a light sport aircraft.

On Sept. 8, 2022, a PiperSport crashed at the Santa Monica Municipal Airport (KSMO) in Santa Monica, California. The accident caused the airplane to catch fire. No one on the ground was injured. Sadly, the certificated flight instructor and the student pilot died in the accident.

The flight had departed the Santa Monica Municipal Airport on what appears to have been a 30-minute discovery flight along the coastline before returning to SMO.

“In Early Analysis: N126WK, the AOPA Air Safety Institute wants to help pilots understand what is known about the accident as we look at factors that are likely to be a subject of the investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)," said AOPA's ASI senior vice president Richard McSpadden.

McSpadden continued, “Light sport aircraft are highly pitch sensitive and the PiperSport pitched up aggressively before it spiraled into the ground. The accident sequence may have started from the PiperSport encountering disturbed air from a departing Beechcraft King Air.”

“Another possibility is based on ATC audio of the PiperSport’s cockpit communications. From that audio it appears that someone may have panicked and pulled back the stick aggressively during final approach to land,” said McSpadden.

Early Analysisvideos provide an initial assessment of prominent mishaps that generate large public interest and may indicate important safety lessons for the general aviation community.

View the video here.

View other Early Analysis videos here.

AOPA Communications staff

AOPA Communications Staff are communicators who specialize in making aerospace, aviation and advocacy information relatable for all.

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