March 25, 2008, Bridger, Mont., Piper PA-28-181


At about 2150 Mountain time, the airplane collided with terrain, sustaining substantial damage. The solo private pilot sustained minor injuries. Night visual conditions prevailed. The pilot was conducting a solo, night, cross-country in preparation for obtaining a commercial pilot certificate.

Approximately 45 to 60 minutes into the flight, the pilot subsequently reported encountering rain and snow at 7500 feet msl. He entered a standard rate turn to the left but received a terrain warning. The pilot immediately pulled up and did not recall the impact.

After regaining consciousness, the pilot wrapped himself in space blankets from the airplanes survival kit. He attempted to make a cellphone call but it did not go through. The pilot decided to spend the night in the airplane. In the morning, after climbing a hill, the pilot was able to use his cellphone. In addition, he applied electrical power to the airplane and contacted an overflying aircraft on the radio. Once he was located, the pilot hiked to a clearing where a helicopter picked him up.

The pilot later stated he attended a winter survival clinic earlier in 2008.


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