NTSB Identification: WPR10LA115
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, January 18, 2010 in Joshua Tree, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/12/2011
Aircraft: CESSNA 172M, registration: N13073
Injuries: 2 Serious.

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 certified flight instructor (CFI) and his student pilot began the instructional flight from an uncontrolled airport with an elevation of 2,464 feet mean sea level (msl). They planned to fly to a controlled airport (elevation 477 feet msl) located about 27 miles of their departure airport. En route, the pilots climbed to at least 6,000 feet msl and encountered several layers of clouds. At their destination airport, about 30 minutes before to about 30 minutes after the accident, clouds were reported at various elevations including 3,800; 5,000; 6,500 and 7,500 feet msl. The student pilot reported that while en route he observed clouds above, below, and at the airplane's cruise altitude with the visibility from 1/2 to 1 mile. Just before the accident sequence began, the CFI was handling the flight controls while trying to fly around the clouds and collided into a mountain at 5,250-foot msl. Near the time of the accident a witness, located about 2 miles from the crash site, observed thick fog covering the roadway on which he was traveling. The accident location was about 14 miles from the departure airport. Terrain in the vicinity was depicted on the appropriate aeronautical chart with peak elevations between 5,600 and 5,800 feet msl. Following recovery, the airplane was examined, during which no evidence was found of any preimpact malfunction or failure.

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

The certified flight instructor's decision to continue visual flight into deteriorating weather, which resulted in his inadvertent encounter with instrument meteorological conditions and subsequent failure to maintain clearance with terrain.

Full narrative available

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