A lack of recent experience coupled with bad weather can prove deadly, even if your logbook says you are current. On June 3, 2001 a Cessna T210G pilot and his two passengers demonstrated this when they impacted the peak of Rabbit Mountain in Longmont, Colorado.
Prior to departing, the pilot contacted flight service for a weather briefing to Lexington, Nebraska. The pilot indicated during the call that he hoped to remain VFR if possible. Weather along the route of flight included Airmets for turbulence and IFR conditions, as well as thunderstorms. The briefer also stated that VFR was not recommended. Witnesses at the departure airport recalled the visibility to be about 3 miles with a ceiling of 300 to 700 feet; while witnesses at the crash site estimated a 100 feet visibility with about a 100-foot ceiling.
The witnesses observed the airplane make a very flat but fast departure from Runway 29. The airplane entered the clouds at about 500 feet, and then shortly re-emerged and proceeded to the northwest. They said that it appeared as if the pilot was trying to maintain VFR and commented on the airplane's proximity to Rabbit Mountain.
Shortly after the departure, another witness observed the aircraft impact Rabbit Mountain in a very steep descent. The airplane hit the ground first with its left wing and then bounced and rolled into a gulch.
The pilot had completed a flight review less than two months before, on April 24. He had approximately 2,600 hours of total time, as well as 86 hours of actual instrument and 70 hours of simulated instrument time. The last recorded flight that included actual instrument time was on January 24, 2000.
The NTSB determined the cause of this accident to be the pilot's inadequate preflight planning/preparation and his continued flight into adverse weather conditions resulting in controlled flight into terrain. Contributing factors were fog, low ceilings and the pilot's lack of recent experience.
ASF's free online program, IFR Adventure: Rules to Live By, is available to help pilots keep current on the requirements for flying in IFR conditions. By completing the course with an 80% or better score, you will also qualify for WINGS credit.
Another good reference for operating in IFR conditions is ASF's free Safety Advisor, Single Pilot IFR. This advisor will teach you skills to help manage IFR flying in the single pilot cockpit. Later this year, ASF will be debuting a new online program dedicated to Single Pilot IFR.
This accident report as well as others can be found in ASF's Online Database.
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