NTSB Identification: ANC09FA052
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, June 09, 2009 in Elim, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/29/2011
Aircraft: HARDEN RV-7, registration: N303BK
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 pilot departed on a visual flight rules cross-country flight on a route that passed near a small coastal town and uncontrolled airport. Witnesses at the coastal town reported low clouds, fog, and poor visibility in the area just before the accident. They also saw and heard an airplane flying very low over their town, which was at a lower elevation than the airport. One witness estimated that the airplane was only a few feet above power lines, or about 30 feet above ground level. The witnesses noted that the airplane flew over the airport and village twice and, during the last pass, turned north toward the top of a hill and the crash site. They indicated that the engine sound was steady.

Data from a global positioning system unit found in the wreckage depicted the airplane's track from departure to the accident site. Near the accident airport, the track was along a meandering path that crossed itself and had several course reversals. Images from weather cameras at the accident airport indicated that the visibility was less than 1 mile. The pilot did not have an instrument rating. No record was found that the pilot had received a weather briefing prior to the flight. A postaccident inspection of the airplane disclosed no evidence of any preaccident mechanical anomalies.

Given the poor weather conditions, witness reports, the meandering flight path near the airport, the pilot's lack of an instrument rating, and the absence of any mechanical problems with the airplane, it is likely the pilot flew into instrument meteorological weather conditions while attempting to locate the runway and collided with rising terrain near the airport.

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

The pilot's continued visual flight into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in an in-flight collision with terrain.

Full narrative available

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