This June 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 182. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Atlanta, Idaho. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The owner said he was aware the pilot, who had mountain flying experience, was having marital problems and he was worried about his state of mind.
The cloud coverage in the vicinity of the accident was described as scattered and broken, with bases between 8,000 and 9,000 feet MSL, cloud tops were about 15,000 feet MSL, with visibility greater than three miles in cloud-free areas.
The airplane crashed into a cliff about 500 feet below a mountain ridge line. Data was recovered from a portable GPS showed a data track originating in the vicinity of the departure airport proceeding at 8,350 feet MSL northeast for 57 miles and abruptly ending in the vicinity of the accident site. During the last two minutes of the flight, the track increased in altitude from 8,350 feet to 8,891 feet MSL. The height of the mountain ridge line directly ahead of the airplane’s flight path was between 9,100 feet and 9,580 feet MSL. The end of the GPS track did not exhibit any deviations that could be interpreted as an evasive maneuver.
After the crash investigators learned that the pilot and his spouse had an argument earlier on the day of the accident. The police inspected the pilot’s automobile that was left at the airport and found two self-help books addressing spousal infidelity.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain terrain clearance during cruise flight.
For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB identification:WPR09FA282.