NTSB Blames Bad Ice, Bad Winds and Bad Speed, Pilot
Error For Wyoming Accident
When Gerald Burger took
off from the Rock Springs-Sweetwater Airport (WY) in his V-35B, he
had no idea it would be his last flight. But there was ice and high
winds and the combination proved deadly.
In an NTSB report on the January 30th accident, it appears
Burger experienced serious icing shortly after he left Casper for
San Diego (CA).
Burger ran into what he described as "moderate icing" and
requested permission to land IFR at Rock Springs (WY) about an hour
after take-off. The NTSB reports Burger "let his altitude slip" and
saw a large butte looming in his windscreen before controllers lost
contact with his aircraft.
Burger departed Casper at 8:29am on that fateful day. At 9:18am,
he reported icing conditions.
Things started to move pretty fast after that. At 9:31, Burger
reported he was "in the clear" and between layers of overcast. He
had been cleared down to 13,000. He was cleared for a further
descent into Rock Springs. Burger's ground speed had been reduced
to just 74 knots.
At 9:39am, ATC asked if Burger wanted an ILS approach.
"Ah yes, we'll do the ILS. I still got quite a load of ice here
on my wings," he said.
Four minutes later, Burger was cleared to descend from 13,000
MSL to 11,000 MSL. At 9:43am, he was cleared to descend to 10,000
MSL. But Burger apparently broke altitude.
"I'm going down to 9,100 (feet) right away," he radioed, after
being cleared for the ILS.
Eleven minutes later, Burger was having trouble spotting the
airport. ATC told him he was about 12 miles out.
"I'm coming around a big peak here," the pilot replied. "It
looks like I let my altitude slide a bit. I apologize. I'm going to
go around that."
Radar contact was lost one minute later. Burger's last known
position was 17 miles east of the Rock Springs Airport. His
altitude was last recorded as 8,000 MSL.
The wreckage was found at 6,937 feet MSL, in scrub-covered