NTSB Identification: DEN99LA063.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, April 07, 1999 in DULCE, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/06/2001
Aircraft: Cessna 172P, registration: N96212
Injuries: 2 Minor.
NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
During the flight from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Farmington, New Mexico, in which no flight plan was filed, the pilot and his pilot-rated passenger were unable to identify the mountains due to the dark night conditions. The pilot realized the VORs were inoperative, and that he was disoriented. He identified the city lights of Dulce, New Mexico, and decided to divert to the old airport, even though it was closed. The pilot began experiencing 'unusual attitudes and was beginning to feel the effects of vertigo,' as he began to encounter snow, fog, and partial obscuration. The aircraft's windshield had also become 'cake[d] with ice.' The controller advised the pilot of the airport's position. He was unable to identify the runway, but observed a police car's flashing light and made the decision to land. Upon landing, the aircraft veered to the left of the runway and impacted a ditch 70 yards from the runway centerline, then nosed over. During the pilot's weather briefings in Farmington and Colorado Springs, the pilot was advised of an AIRMET that had been issued for gusty winds with possible freezing rain and rime icing below 18,000 feet (FL 180), and moderate to severe turbulence en route.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot-in-command becoming disoriented during cruise flight, and his intentional flight into instrument meteorological conditions without proper certification. Factors were the existing weather conditions that included snow, fog, obscuration and icing, the dark night light conditions, the rough terrain condition on which to make a forced landing, and the closed runway. Full narrative available
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