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N30255 accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Ft. Leonardwood, MO
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Tail number N30255
Accident date 28 Dec 1997
Aircraft type Cessna 177
Additional details: None
No position found

NTSB Factual Report

On December 28, 1997, at approximately 1930 central standard time (cst), a Cessna 177, N30255, piloted by a non-instrument rated private pilot, was destroyed during a collision with trees, terrain and post-impact fire following a loss of control while in cruise flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was not operating on a flight plan. The pilot was fatally injured. The flight departed Audubon, Iowa, exact time unknown.

The airplane was reported missing on December 28, 1997, by relatives of the pilot. The airplane was found near Ft. Leonardwood, Missouri, on April 17, 1998.

The Grand Forks, North Dakota, FAA FSS records showed the pilot obtained an outlook weather briefing for a VFR flight to Houston, Missouri, on December 27, 1997, at 2018 cst. The pilot was advised of marginal to instrument meteorological conditions along his route of flight by the FSS specialist.

The pilot called the FSS at 1038 cst on December 28, 1998, and obtained an abbreviated weather briefing for a VFR flight to the same destination. The FSS specialist said he advised the pilot that "...wide spread IFR conditions currently existed along the first half of the route, and that VFR flight is not recommended." After reviewing the weather information the pilot reportedly told the briefer "...that if he [had] to delay and/or deviate, and it should get dark, and if snow or fog reduces visibility, then he would not continue, but set down and wait it out." The pilot told the FSS Specialist that he would check the weather before he departed on his flight. There is no record that the pilot called the FSS for further weather information.

Later in the day the pilot arrived at the Audubon Airport, Audubon, Iowa, and refueled his airplane. According to the airport manager at the Audubon Airport, the pilot obtained a weather briefing from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Flight Service Station (FSS) at Ft. Dodge, Iowa. The manager said the pilot "...told me the FSS in Fort Dodge said VFR not recommended in the direction of his planned flight to Houston, Missouri." He said, "I have a DTN [weather reporting] machine in the office and... pointed out to him [that] he could possibly go straight south through eastern Kansas and avoid the snow as long as he could and then land and look at the weather from the back side (west) and make a decision whether or not to proceed east to his destination." The manager's statement is appended to this report.

Springfield, Missouri, is about 60 nautical miles southwest of the accident site. This station's December 28, 1997, hourly weather report for 1954 cst showed overcast ceiling at 500-feet above ground level (agl). The reported visibility was 1 statue mile. The temperture/dew point was 31 and 31 degrees Fahrenheit respectively. Precipitation was reported as light snow and mist. Rolla, Missouri, is about 35 nautical miles northeast of the accident site. This station's December 28, 1997, hourly weather report for 1953 cst showed scattered clouds at 300-feet agl and a broken ceiling at 1,800-feet agl. The reported visibility was 1-1/2 statue miles. The temperture/dew point was 32 and 32-degrees Fahrenheit respectively. Precipitation was reported as light snow and mist. FSS specialists' statements, a transcript of the first weather briefing for the pilot, and related weather reports and forecasts are appended to this report.

The on-scene investigation revealed no anomalies with the engine, airframe and flight control system that would prevent flight. The pilot's most recent total flight time and experience in the Cessna 177 were not available. An NTSB Form, 6120.1/2 filed by the pilot on December 19, 1996, which was related to an accident that occurred 16-days earlier, showed he had a total flight time of 1,073.6-hours. Of this time, 1,007.8-hours were reported as pilot-in-command. The pilot reported he had 353.6-hours total flight time in the Cessna 177.

The pilot's remains were retrieved by the Ft. Leonardwood Army Hospital, Ft. Leonardwood, Missouri. An autopsy and toxicological examination were not possible due to the lack of suitable remains.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate obstacle clearance and his inadequate inflight decision which resulted in VFR flight in to instrument meteorological conditions. The pilot's overconfidence in his ability is a contributing factor.

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