March 3, 2013, Saratoga, Wyo., Cessna 172M Skyhawk


At about 1558 Mountain time, the airplane impacted trees and snow-covered mountainous terrain. The pilot was fatally injured and the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on a VFR flight plan.

A witness saw the airplane fly overhead in an easterly direction near the time of the accident at about 500 feet agl. She stated the airplane wasn’t visible until directly overhead through an opening in the low and broken clouds. The foothills and Pennock Mountain were not visible because of the low clouds.

According to the FAA, the estimated time of arrival for the flight was 1620, and was overdue at 1650. When the VFR flight plan was not closed, search and rescue efforts were initiated. Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center received an ELT signal at 1558 and contacted the Casper FSS and the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office in Rawlins, Wyo. The local search and rescue were contacted at about 1700. The airplane was located about 1249 on March 5, by a U.S. Air Force helicopter crew.


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