VFR into mountain IMC kills two

This September 2010 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.

Aircraft: Cessna 210. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was on a VFR cross-country flight. He did not have an instrument rating and there was no record of the pilot obtaining a weather briefing for the flight.

He pilot took off in VFR weather, but en route the weather began to deteriorate. Radar data initially identified the aircraft at 12,000 feet MSL on a direct path to the planned destination. When the airplane was about 20 miles southeast of the airport, the plane was in a descending left turn followed by multiple 360° turns. The track then proceeded over mountainous terrain, climbing and descending between 3,300 and 3,600 feet MSL. The track indicated multiple 180° turns before the radar data terminated.

The wreckage was located in mountainous terrain at an elevation of 3,300 feet MSL. Around the time of the accident, reported weather at the destination airport included cloud layers at 3,900 feet and 6,500 feet.

The examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of pre-impact mechanical failures or malfunctions.

Probable cause: The pilot’s continued flight into instrument meteorological conditions and failure to maintain clearance with mountainous terrain while maneuvering in an area of low cloud ceilings.

For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB Identification: WPR10FA459

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