NTSB Identification: SEA05FA013.
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Accident occurred Friday, October 29, 2004 in Olympia, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/07/2005
Aircraft: Cessna 172P, registration: N53161
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.

During a night cross country flight in known adverse weather conditions, the private pilot, with the assistance of air traffic control, was trying to divert into a nearby airport. The pilot reported rough turbulence and heavy rain to the controller. Radar tracking indicated that the flight was in an area of mountainous terrain when the aircraft descended below radar coverage. The wreckage was located on the side of a ridge line. Evidence indicated that the aircraft collided with a dead tree snag before colliding with rising terrain in a level attitude. Witnesses located north of the accident site reported hearing an aircraft fly overhead their residence. These witnesses reported heavy rain and high wind at the time. Post accident inspection of the wreckage and engine did not find evidence of a mechanical failure or malfunction.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from terrain while maneuvering in known adverse weather conditions. Clouds, rain, high wind, dark night, trees, mountainous terrain and the pilot's inadequate in-flight planning/decision were factors.

Full narrative available

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