The pilot of the Cessna 182 had recently received his private pilot certificate. He had a total of 93 hours of total flight time, of which 27 were in the 182. He did not have an instrument rating.
He took off in VFR conditions from a private airstrip near Lustre, Mont., then headed south for 27 miles toward a small town.
While near the town, he made a cell phone call to a family member and reported that there was fog near the river along his route of flight, but that it was clear on the other side. The phone connection then dropped.
The airplane crashed some 22 miles south of Circle, Mont. The pilot was killed in the crash.
The airplane wreckage revealed damage and ground scars consistent with a high-energy vertical impact. Local meteorological observations and satellite imagery indicated that the plane likely encountered instrument meteorological conditions consisting of low clouds and restricted visibility throughout the area about the time of the accident.
The NTSB determined the probable cause of the accident as the pilot’s failure to maintain control as a result of spatial disorientation. The pilot’s decision to continue flight into low visibility conditions was also a factor.
NTSB Identification: WPR13FA1
This April 2013 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.