NTSB Identification: CHI05FA103.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, April 20, 2005 in Festus, MO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/31/2007
Aircraft: Cessna 150M, registration: N45522
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.
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.
The airplane impacted terrain while attempting to land at the departure airport immediately after takeoff. The passenger reported that prior to takeoff the weather at the airport was "sunny and nice, with a slight breeze." The passenger stated that the takeoff was "real smooth" and when they turned to the west they immediately saw dark clouds. The passenger reported that the pilot immediately decided to return to the airport because of the approaching storm. Witnesses reported seeing the airplane banking erratically while on approach to runway 18 and one witness stated the airplane "turned on its left side and went behind the trees." The airplane impacted left wing first approximately 36 feet off the left side of runway 18. The wreckage path was about 77 feet long and was on a 145 degree magnetic heading. The on-site inspection of the airframe, engine, and related systems did not reveal any evidence of pre-impact malfunction. The passenger reported that the pilot did not verify weather conditions prior to departure and that the approaching storm was not visible from the airport. The airport is located in a valley which is flanked by higher elevation to the west and east. A Convective SIGMET was current at the time of the accident and encompassed the accident location. The Convective SIGMET was issued for a severe line of thunderstorms moving east-southeast at 20 knots, with cloud tops reaching 41,000 feet mean sea level (msl), wind gusts of 60 knots, and 1.5-inch diameter hail. Intense to extreme weather radar returns (50 to 55 dBZ) consisting of level 5 and 6 thunderstorms passed over the accident site between 1659 and 1729. Level 5 and 6 thunderstorms are characterized as "Intense" and "Extreme" by the National Weather Service. A plot depicting the radial wind velocities indicated northerly winds of 36 knots or greater as the thunderstorms passed over the accident site. A witness reported that wind was blowing "extremely hard from the west" and that leaves and debris were "blowing almost horizontally above the road surface."
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's inadequate preflight weather evaluation and his failure to maintain aircraft control during the landing approach. A contributing factor to the accident was the pilot's inadvertent flight in close proximity to a severe thunderstorm associated with high velocity/gusting winds and rain.
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