Tuesday, May 8, 2012
When someone makes a suggestion, it might be wise to listen
Cessna 182KOn January 29, 2011, at about 8:30 p.m., a Cessna 182K crashed in hilly terrain about two miles south of Adrian, Oregon. The private pilot and his two passengers were killed. The airplane departed Ontario, Ore., about 15 minutes before it crashed.
Family members told investigators that the passengers were relatives of the pilot. They departed Nampa Municipal Airport, Nampa, Idaho, sometime in the afternoon the day before the accident. They were going to Portland, Ore., for a memorial service and funeral. The airplane stopped at Madras City-County Airport, Madras, Ore., about 120 miles east of Portland. After landing at Madras, the pilot told the airport manager that he had already flown quite a distance west of Madras, and had attempted to get to Portland, but was unable to do so because of weather. He said he wanted to refuel and try again to get through to Portland. The airport manager tried to talk the pilot out of a second try to make it to Portland, because it was already dark and the pilot was flying VFR. The manager said that at first the pilot was adamant about trying again. The manager offered to let the pilot use his car free of charge to drive the remaining distance to Portland. Ultimately, the manager was able to convince the pilot to drive, and to bring the car back the next day with a full fuel tank. The pilot and his passengers left the airplane at Madras, and continued on to Portland by car.
On the day of the accident, the pilot and his passengers left Portland and drove back to Madras. At about 5 p.m., the pilot had 10 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel put in the airplane. According to the airport manager, soon thereafter, "just as it was starting to get dark," the pilot departed for his return flight to Nampa. The manager also stated that a weather system with lowering ceilings was starting to move into the area about takeoff time.
The pilot didn't make contact with any FAA facilities after departing Madras, and the next known location of the airplane and pilot was at Ontario Airport, Ontario, Ore. According to refueling records, the pilot took on 10 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel at 7:57 p.m. A passenger sent a text message to a family member saying that they were at Ontario getting fuel, and that they would be back in Nampa in about 20 minutes. When the pilot did not arrive home, family members became concerned, and after finding his vehicle still parked at the airport, they eventually reported the airplane as missing.
The pilot was 38 years old. He got his private pilot certificate about three and one-half months before the accident. He had a third-class medical certificate. His logbook showed 133 total hours with 1.8 in a Cessna 182 and 3.6 hours at night.
The airplane crashed into steeply rising terrain at the 3,000-foot level of the east-facing slope of the first line of hills that defines the west side of the valley in which Caldwell, Nampa and Boise, Idaho are situated.
According to a representative of the Sheriff's Office that was involved in the aerial search for the aircraft, the localized weather conditions around the area at the time of the accident were variable. Some areas were under a solid cloud layer, some were under clear skies, and some areas were reported as having patchy ground fog and mist.
There were no records of the pilot having received a preflight weather briefing for the flight from Madras to Nampa from any official source.
The NTSB determined that the probable cause of this accident was the non-instrument-rated pilot not maintaining sufficient altitude to clear mountainous terrain while in cruise flight in the dark.
Peter Katz is editor and publisher of NTSB Reporter, an independent monthly update on aircraft accident investigations and other news concerning the National Transportation Safety Board. To subscribe, write to: NTSB Reporter, Subscription Dept., P.O. Box 831, White Plains, NY 10602-0831.
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