On March 28, 2000, about 1120 Eastern Standard Time, a Cessna 177RG, N1830Q, was destroyed during a forced landing near Renick, West Virginia. The certificated commercial pilot received serious injuries. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the area of the accident. The business flight was operated on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to the pilot's daughter, the pilot was en route to a business meeting. The trip was planned with the first leg from Wheeling, West Virginia, to Savannah, Georgia. The second leg was to terminate in Naples, Florida.

At 0818, the pilot contacted the Elkins, West Virginia, Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS). According to a transcript of the briefing, he first filed an IFR flight plan with an initial cruise altitude of 8,000 feet, and then received a weather briefing for the flight to Savannah, Georgia. The briefing included advisories of moderate rime or mixed icing above 8,000 feet through 14,000 feet, west of his route of flight and moving east. The briefer also reported that there were numerous pilot reports of icing between 7,000 feet and 9,000 feet in the area of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Included was a report of a Beech Baron picking up ice 20 miles south of Pittsburgh at 6,000 feet.

According to transcripts of the air/ground communications from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the flight departed Wheeling, West Virginia, at 1004, destined for Savannah, Georgia. The airplane initially climbed to 5,000 feet, and later climbed to 8,000 feet. At 1044, the airplane climbed from 8,000 feet to 10,000 feet, and the pilot reported no ice at that time. However, at 1107, the pilot reported he was picking up rime ice. He then requested a lower altitude, and was subsequently cleared to 8,000 feet.

At 1112, the pilot reported engine difficulty and requested radar vectors to the nearest airport. He was cleared to 6,000 feet, and given a turn toward Lewisburg, West Virginia. During the next few minutes, he was given the frequency of the navaid for the instrument approach into Lewisburg, and was asked if he was receiving the navaid.

According to radar data from the Washington, air route traffic control center, the airplane continued to descend. At 1115:32, the pilot reported he had descended below 5,000 feet. The pilot was advised that 5,000 feet was the minimum vectoring altitude in the area, and the airplane was operating over mountainous terrain. The pilot reported that he did not have the ground in sight, and was unable to maintain altitude. The airplane disappeared from radar at 1115:23, at an altitude of 4,500 feet, and 1.6 nautical miles from the accident site.

At 1115:45, the pilot declared an emergency. At 1115:47, the controller inquired if the pilot needed the emergency equipment at the field. The pilot replied he did not think he would reach the airfield. There were no further communications with the pilot.

At 1121:57, an airplane operating in the area reported receiving a signal from an emergency locator transmitter (ELT).

A person on the ground, about a mile from the accident site, reported that he heard the airplane engine and then the crash. He thought the engine was intermittent at the end. He proceeded to the accident site, and found the pilot unconscious and trapped in the airplane. He reported a strong smell of aviation gasoline at the crash site. He also reported the weather was snow with fog.

The pilot was extricated from the wreckage about 2 hours after the accident. Due to weather conditions, a medivac helicopter was unable to reach the accident site. The pilot was transported down the mountain in a four-wheel drive vehicle, and then transferred to an ambulance for the ride to the airport. He was then flown via helicopter to Roanoke, Virginia.

The airplane and engine were examined on March 29, by representatives of the FAA, Textron Lycoming, and Cessna Aircraft company.

The FAA inspector reported the airplane had come to rest in a wooded area. The debris trail was on a heading of 210 degrees magnetic. Pieces of cut wood were found at the accident site. The landing gear was retracted. Both fuel tanks were ruptured; however, small amounts of fuel were found in both tanks. Fuel was found in the fuel lines leading to the fuel control unit, and to the fuel injection manifold. The upper spark plugs were found dark and sooty. The air filter was found in a sheltered position after the accident, and was soaked with water. The alternate air source was found spring loaded to the closed position.

According to the type certificate data sheet (TCDS) for the airplane, the following placard was required to be displayed, "Flight into known icing conditions prohibited."

According to FAA records, the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate for rotorcraft-helicopter and instrument helicopter. He held a private pilot certificate for single engine airplanes and instrument airplane. His total flight experience was 1,166 hours, with 313 hours in single engine airplanes, and 213 hours in the Cessna 177RG.

The pilot's daughter reported that due to injuries received in the accident, her father had no memory of the accident or the events that preceded it.

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