The pilot was conducting a visual flight rules aerial observation flight and returning to his home base. Radar and weather data showed the Cessna 182 maneuvering in instrument flight rules conditions before radar contact was lost.
Examination of the accident site near El Paso, Texas, indicated the airplane hit rocky, mountainous terrain in a slight left-wing-low attitude at high airspeed, consistent with controlled flight into terrain, killing the pilot.
It is likely that the mountainous terrain was obscured by clouds and low ceilings at the time of the accident, which prevented the pilot from seeing the terrain.
Although the wreckage was significantly fragmented and damaged by fire, no evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures of the airframe or engine were noted that would have precluded normal operation.
Probable cause: The pilot’s decision to continue a visual flight rules flight into known instrument flight rules conditions, which resulted in controlled flight into terrain.
NTSB Identification: CEN15FA174
This March 2015 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.