NTSB Identification: SEA03LA016.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, December 04, 2002 in Tekoa, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/17/2003
Aircraft: Luscombe 8A, registration: C-FIIF
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 in cruise flight in an area where the airplane's outside air temperature gauge was reading within one degree of freezing, the pilot flew through a rain shower that produced an ice coating on the windscreen. He then attempted to fly the 62 year old airplane, which did not have an electrical system, and was not IFR-equipped, by reference to the limited instruments available. Because the pilot found the aircraft difficult and unstable to fly on instruments, he was not able to get a good look at his sectional aeronautical map, and was therefore not sure of the terrain clearance between himelf and the airport that he decided to divert to after encountering the freezing rain. Because there was a 1,000 foot overcast in the area, within which additional icing could be expected, the pilot chose not to climb, and instead maintained his previous altitude. When he got within about 4 miles of the airport, the airplane flew into trees that were growing on the only high terrain within 10 miles of the runway.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from the terrain while attempting to fly a non-IFR equipped aircraft solely by reference to its instruments after the aircraft's windshield became coated with freezing rain in cruise flight. A factor was the pilot's improper inflight decision to continue VFR flight in an area where rain showers where taking place while ambient temperatures where indicated to be within one degree of freezing. Additional factors include freezing rain, an iced-over windshield, and tree-covered rising terrain.

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