After an uneventful sight-seeing flight, the Piper PA18 pilot intended to return to Ford Airport (KIMT) in Iron Mountain, Michigan.
He initiated a left-hand turn about 800 feet above ground level, over Fumee Lake, Michigan, and became distracted while focusing on a distant point across the frozen and snow-covered lake.
He reported he lost reference to the horizon while continuing in a descending left turn and hit the ground with the left wing, main gear, and right wing.
The airline transport rated pilot received minor injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage.
Probable Cause: The pilot’s distraction and subsequent loss of situational awareness and visual horizon in overcast sky conditions, which led to an unrecognized descent during a low-level maneuver and subsequent impact with snow-covered terrain.
This January 2019 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.