According to the pilot, he departed the Nashville area earlier in the day in his Rans S-6S and was en route to Greenville, South Carolina, at 9,500 feet above mean sea level (msl).
He checked the automated surface observing systems weather report and that the clouds in the Morristown, Tennessee, area were reported to be at 7,000 feet above ground level.
He added that he knew that he would be able to clear the mountains just below the recorded ceiling height when needed.
He was operating under the provisions of day visual flight rules (VFR) on top of the broken/overcast cloud layer prior to beginning the descent through the clouds.
During the descent, he stated that the ceiling appeared lower than reported and he elected to climb back up to VFR on top. During this process, he became disoriented, hit a tree, and hit the side of a mountain near Traveler’s Rest, South Carolina. The pilot sustained minor injuries.
Examination of the airplane by an FAA inspector revealed substantial damage to the fuselage, wings, and empennage.
The recorded ceiling and visibility at Greenville Downtown Airport, about 10 nm to the southeast of the accident site, was an overcast ceiling at 800 feet msl and the visibility was 9 statute miles.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s decision to continue visual flight into deteriorating weather, which resulted in an encounter with instrument meteorological conditions and subsequent inability to maintain clearance with terrain.
NTSB Identification: ERA14CA062
This December 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.