Aircraft: RV-4. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Cedartown, Ga. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The pilot, who did not have an instrument rating, took off in VFR conditions on a cross-country flight. There was no record of the pilot obtaining a preflight briefing.
About an hour and a half after departing, the airplane encountered instrument meteorological conditions. The accident site was located within an area covered by an AIRMET for IFR conditions due to ceilings below 1,000 feet AGL and for visibility less than three miles. The location was also immediately south of the boundary for a convective SIGMET for an area of embedded thunderstorms moving southeasterly at 20 knots with cloud tops to 45,000 feet AGL.
Witnesses on the ground said the ceilings were low and it was raining and foggy at the time of the accident. They could hear the airplane circling above them, but they could not see it due to the clouds. The airplane crashed in a left-wing-low and nose-down attitude.
Based on the witness descriptions, investigators determined it is likely the pilot was trying to navigate out of the inclement weather, did not maintain airspeed, and lost control.
Probable cause: The pilot’s continued flight into instrument meteorological conditions and his failure to maintain airspeed while maneuvering for a forced landing, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and collision with terrain.
NTSB Identification: ERA12FA467
This July 2012 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.