HISTORY OF FLIGHT
On August 20, 2007, approximately 1630 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 182R, N6109N, operated by the Civil Air Patrol as CAPS flight 4940, was destroyed when it impacted terrain
20 miles west of Dayton, Wyoming. A post impact fire ensued. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed.
The search and rescue flight was being operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 without a flight plan. The commercial pilot, a pilot rated passenger (scanner trainee) and one observer were fatally injured. The flight departed Sheridan County Airport (SHR), Sheridan, Wyoming, approximately 15:30.
According to the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and the Sheridan County Sheriff’s office, the accident airplane departed Cowley, Wyoming, at an undetermined time, in order to pick up two
observers in Sheridan, for a missing hiker search and rescue mission in the Big Horn
Mountains. One of the observers on the accident flight contacted the United States Forest
Service approximately 1430 with regards to the temporary flight restriction (TFR 7/3431 Bone Creek Incident) over the Big Horn Mountains.
The intended search area for the Civil Air Patrol mission included the perimeter of the TFR. It was determined that CAPS flight 4940 would not be a factor for the TFR. Communication frequencies and procedures were established with the U.S. Forest Service prior to departure from SHR.
According to a U.S. Forest Service pilot, communication with the accident airplane was
established approximately 1550. The CAP airplane reported that they were “maneuvering
above their search area” and they were at a higher altitude “familiarizing themselves with the terrain.” The incident commander for the Garland Gulch fire (part of the Bone Creek Incident) reported observing an airplane, consistent in appearance with the accident airplane, fly “slowly” over his location in a north, northwest direction, towards the Lake and Lick Creek drainage.
The witness stated that the airplane was approximately “400 to 600 [feet] above the ground. There was no apparent indication of trouble in performance of the aircraft, nor did it dip its wings or anything else remarkable.” He stated that the airplane did not return to his area.
At 1756, the search and rescue teams on the ground located the missing hiker. Approximately
the same time, an aerial team working on the Bone Creek Incident discovered another fire
three miles north of where the hiker was located, along the Lick Creek Canyon. Several water
drops were made on the fire and the wreckage of the accident airplane was discovered approximately .75 miles from the ridge of Lick Creek Canyon, on the east wall of the canyon.
The pilot, age 49, held a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land/sea, multi-engine land/sea, and instrument ratings. He was issued a second class airman medical certificate on January 9, 2007. The certificate contained the limitation “must wear corrective lenses.” At the time of application, the pilot reported 1,749 hours total time; 105 hours of which were logged within the previous 6 months. The pilot’s personal logbook was not recovered.
According to the CAP, the pilot joined the CAP in April of 2001. His Mountain Flying
Certification with the CAP was successfully completed on August 10, 2007. According to the
CAP Pilot Data Summary sheet dated May 12, 2007, the pilot reported he had logged 1,803
hours total time, 1,541 of which were in single engine airplanes. The pilot reported that his last flight review was conducted on February 27, 2007. His last annual check-ride and Mission Check Pilot check-ride with the CAP were both conducted on May 12, 2007.
The pilot rated passenger, age 53, held a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land, rotorcraft helicopter, and instrument helicopter ratings. He was issued a second class airman medical certificate in August of 2006. The certificate contained no limitations. According to the CAP, he completed his entry level training on April 20, 2007, and was a scanner trainee.
The observer had joined the CAP in November of 2003. According to the CAP, she was trained
as a mission observer, mission scanner, and skills evaluator.
PROBABLE CAUSE & FINDINGS
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: the pilot’s inability to maintain aircraft control while maneuvering in mountainous terrain due to gusty wind conditions, and lee side turbulence. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s improper in-flight planning and decision making, and his failure to follow operational procedures regarding altitudes flown.