NTSB Identification: SEA02LA025.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, January 09, 2002 in Great Falls, MT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/28/2002
Aircraft: Cessna 210L, registration: N1713X
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

While attempting to fly through an area of mountainous/hilly terrain, the pilot encountered lowering ceilings and snow, and as he continued, got off of his planned course. Although he was initially able to remain below the clouds, he eventually entered an area where his attempts to maintain clearance from the terrain resulted in the aircraft entering the bottom portion of the cloud layer. Because he was having difficulty keeping visual contact with the terrain, he initiated a course-reversal turn. During the turn, the aircraft clipped a tree top, and then impacted a number of other trees. Prior to his departure, the pilot received two weather briefings. The briefing he received earlier in the day indicated his planned route would be VFR at the time of his departure. The briefing he received about 90 minutes prior to departure indicated that the route would be mostly VFR, but that there was an update that showed areas of possible mountain obscuration.

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

The pilot's intentional continuation of a visual flight rules (VFR) flight into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), and his failure to maintain clearance from the terrain. Factors include low ceilings, snow, mountainous/hilly terrain, and trees.

Full narrative available

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