NTSB Identification: WPR12CA213
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, May 17, 2012 in Darby, MT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/15/2012
Aircraft: Rotherwick HR Glasair III, registration: N471B
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.
NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The pilot reported that, about 2 hours into a visual flight rules cross-country flight, he enriched the mixture due to indications of excessive cylinder head and exhaust gas temperatures. This resulted in a higher fuel burn than planned, so he changed the flight’s destination to a closer airport. While en route to his amended destination, he encountered instrument meteorological conditions. A subsequent buildup of ice resulted in a loss of 100 knots of airspeed as the airplane entered a controlled descent. The pilot executed a 180-degree turn and broke out of the clouds over a valley. During the next 50 minutes, he made several attempts to exit the valley; however, mountain peak obscuration and a thunderstorm prevented him from flying out of the valley. Now very close to fuel exhaustion, he elected to land on a two-lane highway. During the landing roll, the airplane veered off the side of the road, impacted a tree, slid backwards through a ditch, and collided with a concrete drainage culvert. The airplane sustained damage to the outboard sections of both wings.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot’s loss of directional control during an emergency landing on a paved highway. Full narrative available
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