General Aviation News will often print excerpts from US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) including this June 2009 report about a fatal accident involving a Cessna 182 in Dougherty, Texas.
According to the accident report, there was no record of the pilot involved having obtained a formal weather briefing before flying. On that day, weather information showed an area of light precipitation that was consistent with a thunderstorm in the vicinity of where the accident occurred. Specifically, convective SIGMETS and METAR observations along with eyewitness reports noted thunderstorms, dust storms, brownout conditions and the chance of severe to extreme turbulence.
Radar data for the last portion of the pilot’s flight showed the Cessna 182 changing headings and altitude several times before nose diving into an open field and fragmenting on impact.
The pilot himself had logged 412 hours that had included 45.5 hours in a Cessna 182, 17.7 hours at night and 4.6 hours in simulated instrument meteorological conditions while the subsequent investigation revealed no issues with the Cessna 182’s airframe, engine or systems.
Hence, the probable cause of the fatal accident was ruled the pilot’s decision to continue flying into poor weather conditions and his inability to maintain control of the aircraft after hitting a thunderstorm. Other contributory factors were the pilot’s lack of preflight planning and his failure to obtain a weather briefing about the adverse weather conditions present at the time.
In other words, always get a weather briefing and if one shows the presence of thunderstorms, consider postponing your flight until conditions improve.
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