This August 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 182. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Sahuarita, Ariz. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: On his last medical application the pilot reported that he had a total time of 4,000 hours with 50 hours logged in the previous six months. The pilot was on a cross-country flight and when he did not return on time his family reported him overdue and a search ensued. The wreckage was discovered the next day at the base of a vertical bluff with portions of the wings about halfway up on the bluff face. Radar data indicated that the airplane circled in the accident area at low altitude. The last radar return, which was in the immediate vicinity of the bluff, indicated an altitude that was lower than the elevation of the top of the bluff.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from mountainous terrain while maneuvering at low altitude for undetermined reasons.
For more information: NTSB.gov