This January 2009 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 205. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Flagstaff, Ariz. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The weather was IMC at the time of departure. The purpose of the flight was to get to a business meeting. The pilot in the left seat held a private pilot certificate with approximately 1,550 hours experience and was the owner of the airplane. The person in the right seat was a private pilot with an instrument rating and approximately 2,500 hours, including instrument flying in Alaska. The left-seat pilot had great confidence in the right-seat pilot’s flying ability. However, according to the spouse of the right-seat pilot, he rarely flew by instruments.
Both pilots were anxious about the flight. The left-seat pilot was concerned about his company’s financial health. The right-seat pilot’s pressure to depart likely stemmed from him dedicating over a year preparing items to be presented in the meeting.
At the time of the accident, the airport’s weather observation facility reported a broken cloud layer at 800 feet with an overcast layer at 1,500 feet and a cloud ceiling varied between 700 feet and 1,100 feet. Recordings between the Automated Flight Service Station and the left-seat pilot revealed that he was open to performing the flight IFR, but opted not to. Just prior to the flight the AFSS briefer reiterated that VFR flight was not recommended.
It could not be determined who was the pilot-in-command at the time of the accident. An audio recording of the airplane just prior to the accident revealed that the engine was producing high power and the plane was traveling at an airspeed of about 130 knots. The airplane crashed into a hill about 10 miles south of the departure airport in the direction of the destination. The wreckage distribution was consistent with an airplane in a relatively level flight attitude during a high speed impact. The investigation did not uncover any mechanical difficulties.
Probable cause: The pilot’s loss of situational awareness and failure to maintain clearance from hilly terrain while flying in an area of a low cloud ceiling. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s decision to continue flight due to a self-induced pressure.
For more information: NTSB.gov