On November 26, 1997, at 0845 hours Pacific standard time, a Cessna 182F, N3543Y, experienced a loss of engine power during cruise and nosed over during the subsequent forced landing in the desert near Palmdale, California. The aircraft sustained substantial damage. The commercial pilot and one passenger, the sole occupants, were not injured. Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) existed for the personal flight and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed. The aircraft, en route from the California City, California, airport to the Van Nuys, California, airport was in contact with High Desert TRACON facilities at the time of the accident.

The pilot reported that he had received a weather briefing using Direct User Access Terminal Services (DUATS) at 0730 on the morning of the accident. The pilot reported that the aircraft was refueled and performed a preflight and run-up with no discrepancies noted. He departed the airport at 0805 and contacted Riverside Flight Service Station (FSS) to active his IFR flight plan. His route of flight was ROSIE intersection direct Palmdale (PMD) VOR, thence the LYNXX 7 arrival for VNY at 8,000 feet mean sea level (msl).

The pilot reported that at 6,500 feet msl he contacted Joshua approach and asked for VFR flight following. Approximately 10 miles north of Palmdale he received his IFR clearance and climbed to 8,000 feet. The pilot reported that he checked his outside air temperature gage and it read "+2deg. C. and (I) turned on pitot heat." He reported that over Palmdale he encountered IMC conditions. After intercepting the LYNXX 7 arrival course on the PMD 240-degree radial they encountered "...heavy rain, moderate turbulence, and updrafts." The pilot reported that he reduced the power setting to 22 inches manifold pressure and 2300 rpm, and approximately 1 minute later lost engine power. The pilot reported that he applied carburetor heat, enriched the mixture, established best glide, moved the fuel selector from the left position to the both position, and made two attempts to restart the engine. He declared an emergency with Joshua approach, and was provided radar vectors to Palmdale where he made a landing in a field. After touchdown, the aircraft bounced once and on the second touchdown impacted terrain. The nose gear came off and the aircraft came to rest inverted.

The aircraft was recovered about 7 hours later on the day of the accident. The recovery service noted that conditions at the accident site were 45 degrees Fahrenheit with rain and sleet. They also noted that there was a piece of ice the size of a snowball covering the fuel vent.


Weather in the vicinity of Palmdale at the time of the accident was reported as 1-mile visibility with rain and a broken ceiling of 3,000 feet msl. The weather reported the previous hour was 10 miles visibility with few clouds at 3,000 feet msl and scattered at 5,000 feet msl.

Four PIREPS for the Palmdale vicinity reported moderate rime ice at 11,000, 14,000, 20,000, and 21,000 feet msl by commercial aircraft. The nearest upper air station located in San Diego, California was reporting the freezing level at 12,000 feet msl.

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