NTSB Identification: WPR11FA448
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, September 12, 2011 in Stanley, ID
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/12/2013
Aircraft: CESSNA 182H, registration: N2404X
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 aircraft accident report.

On the afternoon of the accident, after receiving weather information about the route of flight, the pilot flew to his destination, with tentative plans to return later that night after dark. Because he knew there was a possibility of clouds and precipitation along the route, before making the decision to initiate the return flight, the pilot called two of his pilot-rated acquaintances to discuss the weather conditions, both of whom told the pilot that they thought he should stay at his location overnight and return home the next day after it was light. The pilot, who did not hold an instrument rating, told the acquaintances that he was going to go ahead and take off, but that he would return to his point of departure or another en route airport if he ran into any weather. About 45 minutes after departure, on what was reported as a dark night, the pilot encountered an area of precipitation; radar data indicates that he then initiated a left turn and reversed his course. Shortly after rolling out of that turn, the airplane entered a steep left turn and descended into the terrain, most likely due to the pilot’s spatial disorientation. Infrared satellite imagery revealed that the area around the accident site was under a solid cloud cover, and the cloud tops in the area around the time of the accident were about 21,000 feet. A postaccident 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 pilot's failure to maintain airplane control due to spatial disorientation while executing a turn to reverse his course in dark night and low-visibility conditions. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's decision to initiate the flight into an area of known low visibility.

Full narrative available

Index for Sep2011 | Index of months