NTSB Identification: WPR10LA259
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 22, 2010 in Happy Camp, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/04/2012
Aircraft: SOCATA TB-20, registration: N3041Y
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 non-instrument-rated pilot advised an air traffic controller that he was having trouble descending through clouds. At that point, the controller lost radio and radar contact with the pilot and airplane, respectively. Shortly thereafter, emergency services began receiving telephone calls regarding a possible airplane crash. A law enforcement helicopter could not respond due to the foggy and rainy weather conditions. The wreckage was located later that evening in a forested area. Satellite imagery around the accident time showed the development of an area of convection immediately over the accident site consistent with low topped thunderstorms, which were embedded within a low cloud cover. The accident airplane encountered instrument meteorological conditions when it was lost from radar contact. The flight likely also encountered heavy rain and moderate to severe turbulence associated with the embedded thunderstorms.

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

The pilot’s inadequate preflight planning and decision to continue to operate under visual flight rules into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in an encounter with an embedded thunderstorm and rain showers and moderate to severe turbulence, which ultimately resulted in the loss of airplane control.

Full narrative available

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