NTSB Identification: WPR10FA438
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, August 30, 2010 in Belgrade, MT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/31/2013
Aircraft: CESSNA 182C, registration: N8957T
Injuries: 1 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 non-instrument rated pilot departed for a cross-country flight with weather forecasts along the route of flight and destination airport predicting widespread areas of ceilings below 1,000 feet and visibilities below 3 miles in rain showers. Mountain obscuration in clouds and precipitation was also forecasted. Weather reports from the closest airport about 8 miles from the accident site showed rapidly changing visibility and cloud coverage conditions, with ceilings as low as 500 feet and visibility of 1 mile in heavy rain showers at the time of the accident. Several witnesses were located within a 5-mile radius of the accident site and either heard or saw the accident airplane. Two witnesses reported observing the accident airplane seconds prior to observing it disappear from their view and impacting the ground. One witness saw the airplane descending vertically to ground impact. Other witnesses only heard what they described as the loud engine sound of a very low flying airplane. Witnesses reported that, at the time of their observation, there were low clouds overhead about 200 feet above ground level and light rain was falling. Postaccident examination of the accident site and wreckage revealed that the airplane impacted into an open field while in a near vertical nose down attitude. It is likely that the pilot entered into instrument meteorological conditions and failed to maintain airplane control. There was no record of official weather briefings, but the pilot may have obtained an unofficial weather brief from another source for the flight. Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

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

The non-instrument rated pilot's decision to continue visual flight into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in a loss of airplane control.

Full narrative available

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