The private pilot had logged 175.7 hours, including18.1 hours in the Cessna 182 prior to the crash. He obtained an abbreviated weather briefing, filed an IFR flight plan and took off on a cross-country flight to Fredericksburg, Texas.
The pilot was accompanied by his wife. The purpose of the flight was to celebrate their wedding anniversary. While en route, an air traffic controller queried the pilot if he had the current weather information for his destination airport.
The pilot acknowledged that he did. He then requested vectors for a VOR DME-A instrument approach, but the controller was unable to give vectors and cleared the pilot direct to the VOR, which was the initial approach fix for the approach.
The controller then informed the pilot that he was “constantly” 300-400 feet below his assigned altitude and reissued the local altimeter setting before clearing him for the approach.
About a minute later, when the airplane was about three miles from the VOR at an altitude of about 3,700 feet MSL, the pilot requested cancellation of his IFR flight plan. The controller acknowledged the cancellation and approved a frequency change. There were no further communications or transmissions between the pilot and air traffic control.
A review of radar data revealed that the airplane traveled on a southerly heading toward the VOR. An airport employee heard the pilot announce over the UNICOM frequency that he was crossing over the VOR and transitioning from IFR to visual flight rules flight, however, the weather at the airport was reported to be 1.5 miles visibility.
A witness on the ground said the airplane appeared to be flying very slowly at an altitude of about 200 feet AGL.
The Cessna crashed a mile east-southeast of the airport in a nose-low attitude, consistent with a stall/spin, then caught fire.
Investigators determined that the pilot, during his transition from instrument to visual flight while still in instrument conditions, did not ensure that the airplane maintained adequate airspeed.
The NTSB determined the probable cause was the pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed while transitioning from instrument to visual flight while still in instrument conditions, which resulted in an inadvertent stall.
NTSB Identification: CEN13FA269
This May 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.