The pilot had recently purchased the American Champion Aircraft 8KCAB from the factory and was returning to his home airport when the accident occurred.
The weather conditions initially forecast in the vicinity of the destination airport before departure were consistent with visual meteorological conditions, however, by the time the pilot was within 50 miles of the destination airport, the forecast and actual weather conditions had deteriorated to instrument meteorological conditions (IMC).
Shortly before the accident, a witness observed the airplane as it flew low above the ground in visibilities of about 150 yards in dense fog.
The airplane subsequently hit the tops of trees located near the peak of rising terrain before hitting the ground near Holland, N.J. The orientation and length of the wreckage path were consistent with a controlled flight into terrain impact sequence. The pilot died in the crash.
The airplane was not equipped for IMC, nor did the pilot hold an instrument rating.
A handheld tablet computer, along with a device capable of receiving in-flight weather updates, was recovered from the wreckage. It could not be determined if the pilot had used the device to observe the changing weather conditions during the flight.
However, he also could have used outside visual references and could have tuned the onboard communications radio to weather reporting stations located along the route of flight and noted that weather conditions ahead had deteriorated to IMC.
Upon encountering IMC, he could have diverted the flight to allow weather conditions to improve rather than continuing to the planned destination.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s continued visual flight rules flight into instrument meteorological conditions, resulting in controlled flight into trees and terrain.
NTSB Identification: ERA14FA093
This January 2014 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.