The student pilot and certified flight instructor at the helm of a small plane found crashed in a remote area of Ramona, north of San Diego, had just finished engine failure simulations before they crashed, according to a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) preliminary report released Tuesday.
The plane crash happened on Sunday, Feb. 12 at approximately 2:30 p.m. in a wooded area five miles north of Ramona. Ramona is approximately 40 miles northeast of Downtown San Diego.
At the time of the crash, three people were on board the Cessna 172S, according to the preliminary report: a certified flight instructor (CFI), a student pilot and a rear seat passenger.
The airplane was registered to the American Aviation Academy out of Gillespie Field and took off from the airport at approximately 2 p.m., according to the report. The flight was a instructor-student flight.
The student pilot told investigators that he completed a weight and balance calculation that the CFI signed off on, according to the report.
Once pre-flight inspections were complete and fuel was added to the plane, a third passenger boarded.
"After approaching the practice area and conducting training near a dirt strip, two consecutive simulated engine failure procedures were accomplished," the preliminary report read.
As the plane climbed out of the last simulated engine failure, the CFI instructed the student pilot to turn left, heading east.
In the middle of the turn, the student pilot recognized rising terrain - which was when the CFI took over control of the plane, according to the report.
After an examination of the accident site by the FAA, investigators concluded the airplane hit a large tree and steep terrain.
The impact pushed the tree through the main cabin floor and roof, according to the report.
The Cessna crash landed in a wooded valley in Ramona. When FAA investigators examined the crash site, they found the main wreckage intact, except for the propeller assembly.
The investigation is ongoing.