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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 172506
Last updated: 9 September 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic C172 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Cessna 172 Skyhawk
Registration: N8518B
MSN: 36218
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:NE of Westover Field/Amador County Airport (KJAQ), Jackson, CA -   United States of America
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Departure airport:San Martin, CA (E16)
Destination airport:Sutter Creek, CA (JAQ)
Investigating agency: NTSB
The noninstrument-rated private pilot was conducting a personal cross-country flight. Upon return to his home airport, the pilot encountered forecast low ceilings and poor visibility; based on radar data, he was likely maneuvering in an attempt to locate the airport to land. The airplane impacted near the top of a hill at an elevation of 1,590 ft. A couple reported hearing a low-flying airplane with an engine that seemed like it was "struggling" or not producing power. Another witness in the area stated that she heard, but did not see, a low-flying airplane circling overhead and that the engine sounded like it was cutting out. The airplane then descended below a cloud layer, and she saw it heading in an eastbound direction. Although the weather conditions were conducive to the accumulation of carburetor and structural icing, based on the available evidence, the investigation could not determine whether this occurred. Examination of the airplane and engine revealed no evidence of a mechanical anomaly that would have precluded normal operation.

Instrument flight rule conditions with ceilings below 1,000 ft above ground level (agl), visibility below 3 miles in precipitation and mist, and mountain obscuration were forecast in the area at the time of the accident. However, a search of official weather sources revealed that the pilot had obtained no weather briefings. Reported observations at the destination airport (about 2 miles from the accident site) showed overcast ceilings of about 100 ft agl with a visibility of 1/4 mile about the time of the accident. Radar data showed that the accident airplane approached the area from the southwest (from the departure airport), overflew the destination airport about 4,000 ft agl, and continued tracking to the northeast for about 6 miles before descending and turning back toward the airport. In the minutes before the accident, radar data showed the airplane circling near the accident area at a low altitude. It is likely that the pilot encountered instrument meteorological conditions while maneuvering, which would have been conducive to spatial disorientation, and that the pilot subsequently lost airplane control due to spatial disorientation.
Probable Cause: The noninstrument-rated pilot's encounter with instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) while maneuvering, which resulted in a loss of airplane control due to spatial disorientation. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's decision to attempt to descend into an area of widespread IMC.



Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report

Revision history:

25-Dec-2014 00:14 Geno Added
25-Dec-2014 04:15 Geno Updated [Registration, Cn, Operator, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Damage, Narrative]
25-Dec-2014 06:55 Alpine Flight Updated [Time, Aircraft type]
25-Dec-2014 07:45 Anon. Updated [Registration, Cn, Operator, Damage, Narrative]
29-Dec-2014 21:06 Alpine Flight Updated [Time, Aircraft type]
16-Jan-2015 05:02 Geno Updated [Time, Phase, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Damage]
17-Jan-2015 20:00 Anon. Updated [Time, Phase, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Damage]
21-Dec-2016 19:28 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
13-Apr-2017 17:22 PiperOnslaught Updated [Source, Narrative]
19-Aug-2017 14:16 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Other fatalities, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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