NTSB Identification: DEN06LA036.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, January 25, 2006 in Pagosa Springs, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/30/2006
Aircraft: Cessna 172C, registration: N1407Y
Injuries: 2 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.

Prior to departure, the pilot discussed the weather with a friend who was 65 miles south of the pilot's intended destination. He told the pilot that the weather was clear to the north. The pilot took off and followed a highway. Poor weather conditions prevented him from landing at his original destination, so he turned around and landed at a privately-owned airport that had no service facilities. Shortly thereafter, the pilot took off again and flew north towards his destination. A nearby New Mexico State trooper on patrol observed a single-engine, high-wing airplane, white in color, pass overhead "not more than 20 feet off the ground." As the pilot got closer to his destination, the "weather got bad." He didn't have enough fuel to divert, so he elected to "fly to area of VFR minimums." Then, the "weather in front of us was below class G minimums," so the pilot decided to make a precautionary landing on a snow-covered road. The road came to a "T" and the airplane slid off the end. The left wing and propeller struck the ground and the right wing struck a tree. The right wing had leading edge compression damage outboard of the root, and the left wing leading edge was crushed near the wing tip fairing. Both propeller blades were bent. The pilot said he "should have picked a spot to do a precautionary landing sooner before the weather got bad. Second, I should have called flight service to get a weather briefing, not a friend."

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

the pilot initiating flight into known adverse weather, and his delay in not taking remedial action sooner by not making a precautionary landing. Contributing factors include the pilot's failure to obtain preflight and in-flight weather briefings, his continuing VFR flight into IMC, snow-covered terrain, and trees.

Full narrative available

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