Aircraft: Bellanca 7ECA. Injuries: None. Location: Tehachapi, Calif. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The accident occurred just before dusk. The non-instrument-rated pilot stated that prior to departure, weather reports indicated that clear skies prevailed at the departure airport with patches of fog at his destination. Despite the possibility of fog, he decided to attempt the flight with the intention of diverting to an alternate airport if the weather conditions deteriorated.
While en route over mountainous terrain, he noticed fog forming in the foothills near the destination airport. He attempted to listen to the airport’s AWOS but could only discern the altimeter reading due to radio static.
He initiated a descent to the traffic pattern altitude and noticed fog along the airport’s perimeter. As the airplane was on the final approach path, about three miles from the airport, the visibility began to decrease.
In an effort to maintain visual contact with the airport, the pilot descended and the airplane entered instrument meteorological conditions.
The pilot lost visual reference with the ground and the airplane touched down in a plowed field and rolled onto its right side, sustaining substantial damage to the fuselage and the right wing.
Weather records revealed that at the time of the pilot’s initial weather briefing, the destination airport was reporting instrument meteorological conditions.
Probable cause: The non-instrument-rated pilot’s continued descent into instrument meteorological conditions during the landing approach and his loss of situational awareness, which resulted in a collision with terrain.
NTSB Identification: WPR13CA065
This December 2012 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.