This April 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: Glasair III. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Cheyenne, Wyo. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The private pilot, who did not have an instrument rating, departed under visual flight rules for a planned cross-country flight over mountainous terrain. The pilot’s logbook was not recovered for examination. However, review of the Aircraft Journey Log revealed that he had accumulated 246.6 hours in the accident airplane as of March 30, 2008.
During the cruise phase of the flight, the pilot was receiving radar flight following service. As the flight progressed, he requested a lower altitude in order to avoid clouds. Radar data showed that the airplane descended from the original cruise altitude, then performed a series of turns while continuing to descend prior to radar contact being lost. A witness near the accident site reported hearing an airplane fly overhead at a low altitude followed by the sounds of the airplane hitting the ground. The witness added that at the time he heard the airplane fly over, visibility was around 100 to 150 feet with near “whiteout” conditions due to heavy snow.
Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no mechanical anomalies.
Probable cause: The pilot’s improper decision to continue VFR flight into instrument meteorological weather conditions.
For more information: NTSB.gov