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Pilot error cited in June 17, 2008 plane crash in Pahala

NTSB Report

Accident occurred Tuesday, June 17, 2008 in Pahala, HI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 5/6/2009
Aircraft: CESSNA 172M, registration: N13713
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

The pilot was flying an air tour circumnavigation flight around the island. The visual-flight-rules flight plan specified that the flight would maintain 2,000 feet mean sea level and proceed via the shoreline. The pilot received a standard weather briefing, which included forecast cloud conditions near the accident site of 3,000 feet scattered, 5,000 feet broken to overcast with tops at 9,000 feet, and isolated areas of 3,000 feet broken. Visibility was 5 statute miles with moderate rain showers. A witness was located about 1 nautical mile (nm) from the crash site and heard the airplane. The witness said that the weather at that time was very foggy, misty, and rainy. When the airplane did not arrive at its destination, a search was initiated. The wreckage was located 5 days later at 4,500 feet, on the side of a volcano in thick jungle approximately 9 nm inland from the ocean. It is likely the pilot deviated from his planned route along the shoreline and inadvertently entered instrument meteorological conditions and collided with the rising mountainous terrain. Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or discrepancies.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The pilot’s continued visual flight into instrument meteorological conditions and his failure to remain clear of rising terrain while deviating from his planned route of flight. Contributing to the accident were clouds and mountainous terrain.

Full NTSB narrative of the flight

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