Cessna pilot encounters microburst

Aircraft: Cessna 182. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Thornton, Colo. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot, 41, had logged more than 18,000 hours, including 8,200 in the Cessna 182. There was no record of him obtaining a weather briefing prior to the accident flight.

Weather forecasts predicted fast moving thunderstorms with high wind gusts and the potential for low level wind shear and microburst conditions.

Recorded radar information showed the airplane maneuvering at an altitude of about 500 to 600 feet above ground level and a groundspeed of about 110 knots.

Several witnesses said that as the winds began to pick up, the airplane’s wings began to rock and it entered a steep left bank and dove toward the ground. The airplane hit the ground inverted and exploded in flames.

A study of weather conditions in the area at the time of the accident showed a fast moving thunderstorm cell over the area, which was capable of producing severe downdrafts indicative of a microburst.

Probable cause: The pilot’s inadvertent encounter with a microburst while operating at a low altitude, which resulted in a loss of control from which the pilot could not recover. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s inadequate preflight planning for the forecasted severe weather conditions.

NTSB Identification: CEN11FA428

This June 2011 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.


  1. Hey Merks, get some thick skin…or take a hike…..repeating…It’s the Plain Truth!

    • I agree with Merks. Your comment is lame, tactless, and reflects badly on you, truth or not. Respect never hurt anyone.

  2. Curious George says:

    I wonder if, as some have speculatedScott Crossfield did, he relied on XM Weather or some other in cockpit resource to duck and weave between cells? See: http://dms.ntsb.gov/aviation/AccidentReports/3uunzj45haiu4555qsetrz451/B06202013120000.pdf for the NTSB report of Crossfield’s final flight. It should be (but probably isn’t) pretty well known now that there can be very significant delays in wx depiction on in-cockpit displays… up to 10 minutes or more.

  3. Ken Deken says:

    18000 hours and 8200 time in a Skylane. It can happen to me, with far less time. Fair warning.

  4. Aviator will certainly never have to tangle with severe/t-storm Wx again at any altitude…..

    • A. Merks says:

      What a thoughtless, tacky reply.

      • Merks, it’s the Plain Truth, got that!

        • A. Merks says:

          What I’ve got is a dead husband under similar circumstances and your comment came across as a glib retort from a 10 yr. old. The only worse comment might have been, “Guess he won’t have the guts to do that again”. I’m suggesting some compassion could replace the sarcasm when referring to incidences like this one.

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