The student pilot reported that while on a solo cross-country flight in a Cessna 172E, she was using dead reckoning through the mountains. She was unsure of her location and, as she proceeded to the west, the mountainous terrain became steeper, which required her to ascend from 7,500 feet mean sea level to 8,500 feet msl.
She stated that being unable to clear the rising terrain in her flight path and unable to turn the airplane around, she elected to land near Meeteetse, Wyo.
During the approach a gust of wind hit the right wing, which resulted in the nose landing gear hitting the rocky terrain. The airplane nosed over and sustained substantial damage to both wings and the empennage. The pilot sustained minor injuries.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the student pilot’s inadequate preflight planning and failure to maintain clearance from rising terrain, which resulted in controlled flight into terrain. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s lack of situational awareness.
NTSB Identification: WPR13CA381
This August 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.