The solo student pilot reported that while taxiing to the runway at the airport in Hanover, Virginia, for departure, he attempted to adjust the seat to get a “better view.”
When he released the seat latch, the seat moved aft, and he was unable to reach the rudder pedals or brake pedals with his feet. He added that he was unable to lean forward because his seat belt was secured.
Subsequently, the Cessna 172 veered left. He pulled the engine throttle to idle, but the airplane left the taxiway, running into a ditch and then a wire fence.
The airplane sustained substantial damage to the left wing and right horizontal stabilizer.
The student pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.
Probable Cause: The student pilot’s improper decision to release the seat latch to adjust the seat position during taxi, which resulted in his inability to reach the rudder or brake pedals and a subsequent loss of directional control and impact with a ditch and fence.
This February 2019 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.
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