NTSB / TRF Plane Crash Report Full Text 29 Sep 17

NTSB Identification: CEN17FA361
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, September 23, 2017 in Thief River Falls, MN
Aircraft: CESSNA TR182, registration: N4777T
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On September 23, 2017, about 0745 central daylight time, a Cessna TR182 airplane, N4777T, impacted terrain about 3 nautical miles west of Thief River Falls Regional Airport (TVF), Thief River Falls, Minnesota. The private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and no flight plan had been filed. The flight had just departed from TVF and was en route to Rawlins Municipal Airport (RWL), Rawlins, Wyoming.

Several witnesses, who spoke to the pilot in days preceding the accident, stated that he had flown the same passengers from RWL to TVF on September 17 and returned to RWL the same day. The pilot inquired with the local fixed base operator (FBO) about obtaining a local area sectional chart. The pilot flew back to TVF on September 22 to retrieve the passengers. After landing at TVF the pilot described the flight as “terrible” because he flew at 1,500 ft above ground level (agl), under a cloud layer.

A hotel employee spoke to pilot and passengers on the morning of the accident. The pilot was in the hotel lobby around 0530 checking the weather conditions and planning the flight. The passengers did not eat breakfast and expressed concern about the turbulence to be expected during the flight. The employee drove the three men to TVF about 0715.

At 0701, the automated weather observation system (AWOS) at TVF reported wind from 340° at 6 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, overcast clouds at 400 ft agl, temperature 50°F, dew point 48°F, and altimeter 29.95 inches of mercury; remarks – pressure rising rapidly.

At 0801, the AWOS at TVF reported wind from 310° at 7 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, overcast clouds at 400 ft agl, temperature 50°F, dew point 48°F, and altimeter 29.98 inches of mercury.

A witness who was about 1 mile southwest of the accident site stated that he heard the airplane overhead and the airplane’s engine was “screaming” before he heard the impact.

The accident site was located in a harvested wheat field next to a dirt road. The wreckage debris path began with a ground impact mark, which contained broken green glass from the right wing navigation light, and continued on a heading of 060° for about 200 yards. All the major airplane components were found at the accident site.

The wreckage has been retained for further examination.