Aircraft: Piper Cherokee. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Berne, N.Y. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: There was no record of the 153-hour private pilot, who did not have an instrument rating, obtaining a weather briefing or filing a flight plan prior to the accident flight.
Witnesses on the ground said the clouds were “right over the trees” at the time of the accident. The airplane flew low, then crashed in rising terrain while trying to turn.
The weather was so poor that the pilot of a police helicopter dispatched to the scene immediately after the accident reported that he chose to abort the mission about 1/4 mile before reaching the crash site due to weather conditions.
The post-accident examination of the wreckage revealed no pre-impact mechanical anomalies.
Probable cause: The pilot’s continued visual flight into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in a collision with trees and rising terrain while attempting to reverse course. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to obtain a preflight weather briefing.
NTSB Identification: ERA11FA422
This July 2011 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.