Accident Cessna 172R Skyhawk N2371N, Saturday 5 January 2002
ASN logo
This information is added by users of ASN. Neither ASN nor the Flight Safety Foundation are responsible for the completeness or correctness of this information. If you feel this information is incomplete or incorrect, you can submit corrected information.

Date:Saturday 5 January 2002
Type:Silhouette image of generic C172 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Cessna 172R Skyhawk
Owner/operator:National Aviation Inc
Registration: N2371N
MSN: 17280838
Year of manufacture:2000
Total airframe hrs:1721 hours
Engine model:Lycoming IO-360L28
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Tampa, FL -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Nature:Illegal Flight
Departure airport:St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, FL (PIE/KPIE)
Destination airport:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
On January 5, 2002, at 1703 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172R, N2371N, registered to National Aviation Holdings, Inc., and operated by a student pilot for the purpose of committing suicide, collided in-flight with the Bank of America Bank Building in Tampa, Florida. The unauthorized flight was operated under the provision of Title 14 CFR Part 91, and visual flight rules. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The student pilot received fatal injuries and the airplane was destroyed. The flight departed St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, St. Petersburg, Florida, at 1651.

The student pilot was instructed by his flight instructor to preflight the Cessna 172R airplane and then wait for the instructor before beginning the training flight. Witnesses stated that the student pilot proceeded to the airplane, removed the wing tie-downs, boarded the airplane, started the engine, and immediately taxied to runway 35R without the flight instructor The student pilot then took off from the runway without communicating with the airport Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower. The tower controllers stated that the airplane turned to the right and headed toward the southeast immediately after takeoff. No transponder signal was received from the airplane. The tower controllers notified Tampa ATC approach controllers, and they also notified the pilots of a Coast Guard helicopter that was flying in the local area. Additionally, the controllers made numerous attempts to contact the pilot by emergency radio frequency, but were unsuccessful. The Coast Guard helicopter pilots were asked to intercept the airplane. The airplane proceeded to a local Air Force military base and over flew the base control tower, two aircraft, and three hangars at a low altitude. The airplane was then observed to alter its heading toward a tall office building in the city of Tampa. While en route to the building, the Coast Guard helicopter pilots intercepted the airplane and attempted to signal the pilot to land. According to the helicopter pilots, the student pilot saw their hand gestures and gestured back to them; however, the helicopter pilots could not determine the kind and meaning of the gestures that the student pilot exhibited. Shortly thereafter, the airplane impacted the office building at the 28th-floor level. An examination of the airframe, systems, and engine did not reveal any evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction. No indications of ethanol or drugs were found in specimens taken from the student pilot. A 2-page suicide note was found on the student pilot’s person.

Probable Cause: The pilot's unauthorized use of an aircraft for the purpose of committing suicide.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: ATL02FA032
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year
Download report: Final report





Revision history:

21-Dec-2016 19:25 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
09-Dec-2017 15:23 ASN Update Bot Updated [Operator, Nature, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
28-Jul-2023 08:02 Captain Adam Updated

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

The Aviation Safety Network is an exclusive service provided by:
Quick Links:

CONNECT WITH US: FSF on social media FSF Facebook FSF Twitter FSF Youtube FSF LinkedIn FSF Instagram

©2024 Flight Safety Foundation

1920 Ballenger Av, 4th Fl.
Alexandria, Virginia 22314