The non-instrument-rated private pilot departed on a cross-country flight in the Cessna T310R without obtaining a weather briefing from a flight service station or the Direct User Access Terminal System, and he did not communicate with air traffic control during the flight.
Existing weather advisories for instrument flight rules conditions along the intended route of flight had been issued.
Radar data was not available for the flight due to antenna site locations, so the airplane’s flight path and flight altitudes could not be determined.
Witnesses near the accident site in Junction, Texas, reported overcast skies, fog, drizzle, and windy weather conditions. They also reported hearing sounds consistent with an airplane circling and then sounds consistent with a rapid descent followed by the sound of an impact. Two people were killed in the crash.
A post-accident examination revealed damage and fragmentation to the airplane consistent with a nose-low attitude and high velocity at the time of impact.
Weather observations and satellite imagery showed that a layer of overcast clouds was present over the accident site with a base at about 800 feet above ground level (about 2,600 feet mean sea level) and tops at about 9,500 feet mean sea level. It is likely that the pilot encountered instrument meteorological conditions and subsequently lost control of the airplane.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the non-instrument-rated private pilot’s decision to continue a visual flight rules flight into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in the loss of airplane control. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to obtain a weather briefing before departure.
NTSB Identification: CEN14FA051
This November 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.