These October 2009 accident reports are provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, they are intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.
Aircraft: Cessna 182. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Pryor, Mont. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The pilot was returning to his home airport. He contacted family members before his departure and indicated that his arrival would be delayed due to poor weather along the route of flight.
The pilot had 724.3 hours in single-engine airplanes. Additionally, his logbook noted that he had attended the Montana Department of Aeronautics 2009 Mountain Search Pilot Clinic in September where he accrued 2.7 hours of instruction.
Review of data obtained from a handheld GPS unit carried aboard the airplane showed that the first portion of the pilot’s route of flight was direct between his departure and destination, in a general west-northwesterly direction. Near the end of the flight the flight track showed a 360° turn to the right, followed by a path to the south, then 180° to the north, followed by a turn to the south. The last data points showed a westerly track.
While the weather at the time of the accident included low clouds and low visibility with fog, the investigation was unable to conclusively determine if the flight cleared the lowest cloud ceiling.
Probable cause: The pilot’s decision to continue flight into an area of low ceilings and low visibility and his failure to maintain clearance from terrain.
For more information: NTSB.gov NTSB Identification: WPR10FA018