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.