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.
The noninstrument-rated private pilot was making a cross-country flight over mountainous terrain. Radar data showed the airplane flying in a northwesterly direction and climbing to an altitude of about 10,500 ft mean sea level (msl). About 38 minutes into the flight, the airplane's altitude started to decrease as it continued in a northwesterly direction, and, 6 minutes later, its altitude was 7,500 ft msl. The last radar return occurred 1 minute later at an altitude of 6,000 ft msl. The wreckage was located at the 6,000-ft level of a mountain ridgeline in the vicinity of the final radar return. Photographs of the wreckage revealed that the damage to the airplane was consistent with controlled flight into the terrain. The wreckage was not recovered from the accident site, and no follow-up examination was accomplished.
Weather radar imagery indicated that rain showers moved into the area from the south-southeast as the airplane approached the accident site. These showers extended from about 19,000 ft msl down to ground level. Although no direct weather observations of the accident location were available, the airplane's descent as it approached the site is consistent with an attempt by the pilot to maintain visual meteorological conditions while operating amidst rain and clouds that likely obscured the terrain.