NTSB Identification: WPR09FA096
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, January 23, 2009 in Flagstaff, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/29/2009
Aircraft: CESSNA 205, registration: N8298Z
Injuries: 2 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.

The purpose of the flight was for the pilots to attend a business meeting. The left-seated pilot, a private pilot, owned the airplane and the right-seated pilot held an instrument rating; it could not be determined who was the pilot-in-command at the time of the accident. The left-seated pilot had a self-induced stress of completing the flight and attending the meeting as he was concerned about his company's financial health. The right-seated pilot's pressure to depart likely stemmed from him dedicating over a year preparing items to be presented in the meeting. The left-seated pilot had great confidence in the right-seated pilot's flying ability and history in operating in inclement environments, which most likely contributed to his decision to depart in poor weather conditions. An audio recording of the airplane just prior to the accident revealed that the engine was producing high power and the airplane was traveling at an airspeed of about 130 knots. The airplane crashed into a hill bordering an interstate about 10 miles south of the departure airport and in the direction of the destination. The wreckage distribution was consistent with the airplane in a relatively level flight attitude during a high speed impact. An airline pilot, who departed about 30 minutes after the accident airplane, stated that the cloud layer was about 1,000 feet above ground level (agl). At the time of the accident, the departure airport's weather observation facility reported a broken cloud layer at 800 feet; an overcast layer at 1,500 feet and remarked that a cloud ceiling varied between 700 feet and 1,100 feet. Recordings between the Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) and the left-seated pilot revealed that he was open to perform the flight as an instrument flight rules (IFR) operation, but opted not to. Just prior to the flight the AFSS briefer reiterated that visual flight rules (VFR) flight was not recommended. Post accident examinations revealed no mechanical anomalies with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.

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

The pilot's loss of situational awareness and failure to maintain clearance from hilly terrain while flying in an area of a low cloud ceiling. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's decision to continue flight due to a self-induced pressure.

Full narrative available

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