Accident Cessna 172N Skyhawk N739ZE, Saturday 28 May 2016
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Date:Saturday 28 May 2016
Type:Silhouette image of generic C172 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Cessna 172N Skyhawk
Owner/operator:Encore Flight Academy
Registration: N739ZE
MSN: 172-70930
Year of manufacture:1978
Engine model:Lycoming O-320 SERIES
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Sea E of Catalina Airport, Santa Catalina Island, CA -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Catalina Island-Avalon Bay Airport, CA (AVX/KAVX)
Destination airport:Los Angeles-Van Nuys Airport, CA (VNY/KVNY)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
The flight instructor and student pilot departed for an instructional flight from an airport on an island en route back to their home airport on the mainland. A review of radar data indicated that the airplane took off with its transponder in the “off” position; therefore, no altitude information was available. The data indicated that, after taking off, the airplane flew north. The track ended 3 minutes later over open water about 5 miles north of the departure airport. After the airplane was reported missing, a search ensued. Although an oil slick consistent with drift models was present in this area, neither the airplane nor the occupants were found. 
Four minutes before the airplane took off, the reported weather at the departure airport included 9 statute miles visibility and a broken cloud ceiling at 800 ft above ground level (agl); however, the remarks section reported that the ceiling varied between 600 and 1,000 ft agl. In addition, satellite imagery indicated that there was a thick marine layer just north of the airport.

Probable Cause: Undetermined because the airplane was not located.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: WPR16FAMS1
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report


FAA register:


Revision history:

31-May-2016 15:03 Geno Added
06-Jun-2016 07:49 Anon. Updated [Date]
10-Jun-2016 08:19 Anon. Updated [Total fatalities]
08-Sep-2017 19:47 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Total fatalities, Other fatalities, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Damage, Narrative]
09-Jul-2023 00:24 Ron Averes Updated

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