This February 2008 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: 1 Fatal. Location: Baytown, Texas. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The non-instrument rated private pilot was on a 197-nm cross-country flight. Weather forecast for the route of flight was for marginal VFR weather conditions. A review of the airplane’s radar track shows the approach from the east, heading westbound. At about 6:30 p.m., the airplane initiated a descent from 6,500 feet. Prior to disappearing from radar at about 15 minutes later, the plane made a single, descending “S” turn, beginning at an altitude of 2,400 feet, and ending at the last radar plot at 1,100 feet. A witness near the crash site reported that the weather at the time of the crash was extremely foggy, with visibility less than a tenth of a mile. The pilot stated to an air traffic controller that he needed to perform a 180° turn, because he was not able to get down through the weather.
The airplane’s ground impact created approximately a 16-foot long, 7-foot wide, and 30-inch deep crater in the ground. The airplane was fragmented, with pieces scattered along the wreckage path. Near the start of the wreckage path, several angular cuts were found on tree branches. Additionally, patches of vegetation near the initial impact area displayed signs of fuel contamination.
An examination of the airplane failed to identify any pre-impact abnormalities with the aircraft. Analysis of the radar data, the pilot’s air traffic control communication and the fragmentation of the airplane is consistent with an in-flight loss of control.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain aircraft control after flying into clouds.
For more information: NTSB.gov