The non-instrument-rated private pilot reported that, while en route, he encountered clouds about 2,200′ above ground level (agl). He descended to 2,100′ agl to try to get out of the clouds, but he still could not see outside.
He decided not to climb or contact air traffic control.
The Piper PA-28 hit a tree-covered mountain ridge near Carpinteria, California, and came to rest upright with its left wing bent aft. The pilot was seriously injured in the crash.
The pilot reported no anomalies with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.
Probable cause: The non-instrument-rated pilot’s improper decision to continue visual flight rules flight into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in controlled flight into terrain.
NTSB Identification: WPR17LA124
This June 2017 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.