On February 18, 2010, at 1847 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172RG, N9771B, sustained substantial damage when it struck trees and terrain while approaching to land on runway 25 (5,600 feet by 100 feet) at the Ohio University Airport-Snyder Field (UNI), Albany, Ohio. The flight was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and was in visual meteorological conditions. No flight plan had been filed. The private pilot, who was the sole occupant, received minor injuries. The flight originated from the Capital City Airport (CXY), Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at an unconfirmed time. The original intended destination was the Clermont County Airport (I69), Batavia, Ohio.

At 1038 on the day of the accident, the pilot contacted the Raleigh Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) and obtained a weather briefing for a proposed visual flight rules (VFR) flight from CXY to I69. The briefer informed the pilot of an Airman’s Meteorological information bulletin (AIRMET) for instrument meteorological conditions along the route of flight. The briefer also informed the pilot of possible moderate turbulence and moderate icing along the route of flight. During the telephone conversation with the briefer, the pilot stated that he could make the flight under instrument flight rules (IFR), if necessary.

At 1331, the pilot contacted the Washington AFSS and again obtained weather information for a proposed VFR flight from CXY to I69. The briefer advised that VFR flight was not recommended and that instrument meteorological conditions existed along the route of flight. The briefer informed the pilot of an AIRMET for moderate icing below 8,000 feet. During the telephone conversation with this briefer, the pilot again stated that he could make the flight under IFR, if necessary.

At 1626, the pilot contacted the Washington AFSS while in-flight using the aircraft’s communication radio. He obtained updated weather information for the flight from CXY to I69. When the pilot made contact, the airplane was at 10,400 feet above mean sea level (msl) and was in VFR conditions above the clouds. The pilot informed the briefer that he was capable of instrument flight and inquired as to locations where a descent could be made without accumulating ice. The briefer informed the pilot that VFR was not recommended. The briefer also informed the pilot of several pilot reports of icing along the route of flight.

At 1803, the pilot established radio communication with the Indianapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC). He informed the controller that he was operating as a VFR flight at 10,000 feet msl. The pilot then advised the controller that a descent under VFR might not be possible and that he may need to make the descent under IFR. The controller provided the pilot with pilot reports of icing in the area. The reported icing was from 3,000 feet msl to 8,000 feet msl.

At 1817, the pilot requested a descent to 2,000 feet and stated that he would not be able to maintain VFR throughout the descent. The controller advised the pilot that an IFR clearance could be issued if the pilot was IFR “capable and qualified.” The pilot responded that he was capable and qualified, and an IFR clearance was issued. The pilot began the descent at 1825.

At 1829, the controller asked the pilot if he was accumulating any airframe ice during his descent. The pilot replied that he was accumulating light rime ice. At 1831, the pilot informed the controller that the ice accumulation rate was increasing.

At 1837, the pilot requested radar vectors to UNI, and the controller asked if he was altering his destination to divert to UNI. The pilot responded that he was altering his destination. The controller asked which instrument approach procedure the pilot intended to use at UNI and after hearing the available approaches, the pilot requested the instrument landing system (ILS) runway 25 approach at UNI.

At 1840, the controller inquired with the pilot as to the reason for the diversion to UNI. The pilot responded that the diversion was due to weather, specifically, the ice accumulation rate was faster than he thought it would be.

At 1841, the controller attempted to contact the pilot with no response. Over the next 3 minutes, the controller attempted several times to re-establish radio communications to no avail. At 1844, the pilot re-established radio communication and stated that he had inadvertently toggled the wrong frequency on his communication radio. After communications were re-established, the controller cleared the pilot for the approach to UNI.

At 1845, the pilot advised the controller that he had the UNI airport in sight and requested a cancellation of his IFR clearance. The controller confirmed the cancellation and authorized a frequency change to the pilot. The pilot acknowledged. No further communications were received from the pilot.

The airplane impacted trees and terrain about 0.25 miles north of UNI.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land rating that was issued on August 23, 2009. At the time of the accident, the pilot did not have an instrument rating. The pilot also held a third class airman medical certificate issued on January 9, 2009.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records showed that the pilot had previously held an airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate. The records showed that the pilot surrendered that certificate on August 20, 2007, in conjunction with an Emergency Order of Revocation. The revocation order stated that the pilot operated an airplane as pilot in command on 24 flights when the pilot was aware that his applications for medical certificates had been denied. Subsequent to the surrender of his ATP certificate, the pilot applied for and satisfactorily completed a practical examination for his private pilot certificate.

The pilot’s flight logbooks were not made available during the accident investigation and the pilot did not submit a report of the accident as requested. The pilot listed 1,582 hours of flight experience, including 127 hours of instrument flight experience, on his application for his private pilot certificate.

The airplane was a 1981 Cessna model 172RG, serial number 172RG1025. The airplane was a single-engine, high-wing, monoplane with retractable tricycle landing gear. The airplane was configured to seat 4 occupants including the pilot. The airplane was powered by a 180 horsepower Lycoming model O-360-F1A6 engine. The airplane was not equipped, nor approved for flight in icing conditions.

At 1840, the recorded weather conditions at UNI were: Wind 220 degrees at 8 knots; 7 statute miles visibility; broken clouds at 1,600 feet above ground level (agl); overcast clouds at 2,100 feet agl; temperature 0 degrees Celsius; dew point -3 degrees Celsius; altimeter setting 30.02 inches of mercury.

The airplane came to rest in a tree line in a nose low, left wing low attitude. The aft fuselage was bent downward and was partially separated from the forward fuselage at the aft end of the cabin. Farther aft, the fuselage was buckled at the leading edge of the tail surfaces with the tail surfaces twisted down and to the left. The right wing was predominately intact with tree impact damage to the leading edge. The left wing was buckled upward outboard of the wing strut attachment position. All of the flight control surface remained attached to the airplane.

Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed no pre-impact anomalies.

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