I promised to fill you in on this accident and here it is.
I will describe her flight and then follow with the results.
A student solo cross country. She went to her first airport and described it as a perfect flight. At her second airport while slowing down and getting into the landing pattern, the plane began to shake and she couldn't slow it down. The first attempt was aborted because there was a coyote on the runway. The next two attempts were aborted because she could not slow the plane down and it was shaking. Then she decided to proceed to her home base. The plane was performing fine from there to home base about 20 miles away.
Arriving at home base she described the same results and made three attempts at landing and then crashed.
First 3 attempts at second airport on 4300 strip. Departure end has open fields.
Home base, one runway 6574 feet and 4422 on the runway she chose to use. Both plenty long but no place to land after the end of any runways.
9,990 foot runway 11 miles north at another airport. Towered airport so there is help available.
While in the pattern another pilot in the pattern radioed her and suggested she take the longer runway and then the crash happened.
Pilot safe and only had 3 stiches to her leg. In the hospital that night she told me that on the last attempted go around, at about 150 feet, she raised the flaps. We know that is not good.
In my opinion, in her situation she did everything perfect. Only based on the final result being that she is alive and uninjured. While this is what she did, I would not recommend what she did to anyone, I doubt the results would be the same. She is our local miracle.
We can all sit safe on the ground and talk about what we would have done or what she should have done. The reality is that our brains all work differently and in a moment of terror that I imagine she was in, we don't really know how we will react. We talk, we train and simulate these situations but there are many things that affect how we ultimately react. Of course as pilots we like to think we will do the right thing but there is no guarantee.
There were many choices that could have been made other than the ones that she chose.
First thing is to know your airplane. Why wouldn't the plane slow down and why was it shaking? Stop reading here and give yourself a moment to think about what was going on.
In our CT's we have dual carbs. If one of the throttle cables should break, that carb will go to full power. Everything will appear fine at high throttle but when reducing power you will have an unbalanced carb situation, one carb high power and one low power. This is what causes the shaking and inability to slow down for a landing. In this case the left throttle cable broke.
Here are some choices that could have been made. There may be more.
At the second airport you could have chosen to use the runway with clear departure end so if you over run, it was empty fields.
You could have done a dead-stick landing. Is everyone sure what this means? Will your brain allow you to react properly? Sometimes your brain will not accept the fact that you must use the key and turn the engine off. You could pull the chute but even then you need to be turn off the key and be at a sufficient altitude. True dead-stick landings are not usually practiced so it is only discussed. In the case of students, I believe a special effort must be make that the student absolutely understands and is willing to turn the key off if needed.
Not understanding why the plane is reacting the way it was is another area of concern. In this type of situation would you stay at an airport and try to resolve the situation or decide to travel 20 miles to your home base?
When deciding to leave this airport and still having the problem, would you head to your home base or detour to an airport with a runway that is twice as long and has help available.
When arriving at home base, would it have been wiser to use the longer runway?
Any of the available runways would be fine if you do a dead-stick landing. I believe what brought her down was brining flaps up at 150 feet on the go around attempt. Who can say, she is alive and uninjured.
So what happened to the throttle cable? Are you familiar with how this can happen? The cable breaks between where it comes out of the housing and attaches to the lever on the carb. It attaches to the carb thru a pin and is locked down by tightening this connection. Do you know that there is a specific torque for that connection? If that connection is too tight by over torqueing or dirt or corrosion, it will not swivel. It must swivel. If it does not swivel, each time you move the throttle it will bend slightly and over time it will work harden and eventually break.
In a flight school situation the throttle cable gets much more use than most of you will put yours thru in the life of the airplane so you may never experience this. The cost of replacing the cables is minimal. To replace both cables with parts and labor should only be about $100. You may want to consider this as a routine maintenance item. This is the second one we have had break in 11 years. The first was 10 years ago, in the pattern and with an instructor on board.
I post this here not as a debatable subject, but something to think about and review your emergency procedures. If you do your own maintenance and even if you have a certified mechanic work on your plane, make sure everyone is familiar with how things like this can happen.