NTSB Identification: WPR10GA113
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Sunday, January 17, 2010 in Corvallis, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/16/2011
Aircraft: CESSNA 182R, registration: N702
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 public aircraft accident report.

The flightcrew had completed a public-use migratory bird survey flight. After landing, the pilot purchased fuel and updated the flight plan. The pilot stated to the flight service station briefer that he was aware of the area AIRMETs (airmen’s meteorological information) for mountain obscuration and turbulence that were active for the area of intended flight. The weather conditions at the destination 30 minutes prior to the accident were calm wind; 5 miles visibility; few clouds at 700 feet, broken clouds at 4,400 feet, and overcast at 5,000 feet.

The pilot departed for the destination, which was located 38 miles east and where the airplane was based. Although the pilot had updated his flight plan before they departed, the pilot never activated the flight plan once airborne. The route between the departure airport and destination airport consisted of flight over mountainous terrain with terrain elevations between 1,000 and 1,750 feet mean sea level (msl). Radar and global positioning system data showed that the airplane proceeded east at an altitude of around 2,800 feet msl and followed a highway. Twenty minutes after takeoff and 14 miles northwest of the destination, the airplane changed to southeasterly flight path towards the destination. The airplane started a very gradual descent and, after about 2 minutes, impacted trees at 1,500-feet msl while in level flight; the airplane was about 9 miles northwest of the destination.

Weather analysis indicated that conditions at the accident site leading up to the time of the accident were low clouds at 700 feet above ground level (agl) with ceilings at 4,000 feet. Surface conditions were near saturation, indicative of precipitation reaching the ground and/or reduced visibilities. Weather radar imagery indicated the accident airplane was below an area of light precipitation during the final portion of flight. Conditions between 300 feet agl and 1,500 feet were highly favorable for cloud sustainment and/or development. A much deeper cloudy region dominated altitudes above 4,000 feet, and the freezing level was about 5,000 feet. A postimpact examination did not reveal any 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 failure to maintain clearance from terrain while operating into a known area of mountain obscuration due to low clouds, precipitation, and mist.

Full narrative available

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