NTSB Identification: WPR10LA059
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, November 20, 2009 in Susanville, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/21/2010
Aircraft: CESSNA 182K, registration: N2650R
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The instrument-rated pilot of the single-engine airplane received his instrument flight rules clearance for a southeast departure and took off with 1/2-mile visibility and light snow falling. About the time the airplane departed witnesses heard an airplane circling overhead, making a number of passes 2 miles to the northeast of the airport, and then heard the airplane impact the ground and saw a fireball. The circling flight path is consistent with the pilot's known departure habits of circling over the airport to gain sufficient altitude to clear the mountainous terrain surrounding the airport. The witnesses did not see the airplane before it impacted the ground because of the snow and low visibility at the time. The pilot was instructed in his clearance to contact the air traffic control (ATC) center after departure, but ATC center personnel reported that they never received a check-in radio call from the pilot. The weather at the airport about the time of the accident included winds from 140 degrees at 6 knots gusting to 15 knots, 1/2-mile visibility with a 200-foot overcast ceiling, and an outside air temperature of 1 degree Celsius. The wreckage of the entire airplane was contained in the vicinity of the initial ground impact and no ground scars or debris were found leading up to the wreckage. Examination of the airplane's wings showed leading edge crushing along the entire length of both wings, and the wing skin was crushed accordion-style longitudinally, all consistent with a stall and vertical descent to impact. Accumulation of ice on the airplane in flight could have inhibited radio communications and created unusual airplane stall characteristics conducive to a stall/spin.

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

The pilot's decision to takeoff into weather conditions conducive to ice accumulation, which resulted in an inadvertent stall/spin while maneuvering in the initial climb. Contributing to the accident was the likely accumulation of snow and ice on the airborne airplane.

Full narrative available

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