NTSB Identification: DEN99FA142.
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Accident occurred Monday, August 02, 1999 in GRANTS, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/16/2001
Aircraft: Cessna 172P, registration: N6497K
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

While on a cross-country flight from Hawthorne, California, to Tulsa, Oklahoma, the aircraft was proceeding from a fuel stop at Flagstaff, Arizona, to another fuel stop at Double Eagle Airport in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The pilot did not file a flight plan but was utilizing flight following. In the vicinity of Winslow, Arizona, the flight was observed by the controller to do a 180 degree turn and descend to an altitude that was below radar coverage capability. No communications or further radar contacts occurred. Two days later, when family members became concerned, an ALNOT was issued. Search efforts failed to find the missing aircraft. Nine days following the disappearance of the aircraft, a state police helicopter, working on another matter, picked up a weak ELT signal. Localization of this signal resulted in the aircraft being found approximately 160 miles east of its last known position. It had collided with the side of a mountain on a westerly heading, while in level flight, at approximately 10,600 feet above sea level. The duration and route of flight from the last radar target to the accident site could not be established. No evidence of structural and/or mechanical malfunction was found during the investigation. The weather in the area along the possible routes of flight, during the time period when the aircraft was in transit, was overcast skies with varying intensity rain and thunderstorms. The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating in single engine land airplanes. He had an instrument rating issued approximately 2 weeks before the accident and had 213 hours of total flight experience, with 3 hours actual instrument time and 32 hours simulated instrument time.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot's failure to fly the aircraft at an altitude sufficient to clear surrounding terrain. Factors were: The pilot's in-flight planning and decision making in proceeding into known adverse weather. Low ceiling, rain, lack of total pilot experience, and lack of total instrument time.

Full narrative available

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