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 140. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Grand Meadow, Minn. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The pilot had obtained three weather briefings before departing on the accident flight, all of which forecasted that IFR conditions would exist along the planned route. The airplane was not equipped for instrument flight. The pilot held an ATP certificate with airplane single and multiengine land, airplane single engine sea, rotorcraft-helicopter, and instrument rotorcraft ratings. The pilot, who had logged about 21,000 hours, was type-rated for the Boeing 727, Douglas DC-9, McDonnell Douglas MD-11, and Fokker 100. He had purchased the vintage airplane earlier in the day and was flying it to attend a family event later that afternoon.
The intended route of flight was into an area of extensive instrument weather conditions consisting of low ceilings and reduced visibility. Weather stations near the accident site reported overcast 400 to 600-foot AGL and visibilities of 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 miles in mist. There were active flight advisories for IFR and moderate icing conditions.
Track data for indicated that the airplane was flying between 300 and 600 feet AGL when it encountered a wind farm with several 400-foot-tall wind turbines. The airplane made a 90° course change, which was followed by a figure-eight turn at varying altitudes between 800 and 1,500 feet AGL. The airplane hit terrain in a nose-low, left-wing-down attitude. The 300-foot-long debris path and fragmentation of the airplane were consistent with a high-speed impact. Examination of the airframe, engine, and propeller revealed no anomalies that could be associated with a pre-impact failure or malfunction.
Probable cause: The pilot’s continued visual flight into an area of known instrument meteorological conditions in an airplane not equipped for instrument flight, and his failure to maintain control of the airplane while maneuvering at low altitude.
For more information: NTSB.gov