NTSB Identification: CHI94FA067.
The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Accident occurred Saturday, January 22, 1994 in WASECA, MN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/11/1995
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-181, registration: N4510N
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

THE NON-INSTRUMENT RATED PILOT GOT A WX BRIEFING AT ABOUT 1600 CST FROM THE MINNESOTA WX ADVISORY SERVICE & DEPARTED MANKATO ON A FLIGHT TO ROCHESTER. EN ROUTE, HE HAD A RADIO PROBLEM, BUT RECEIVED LIGHT SIGNALS FROM TOWER FOR CLEARANCE TO LAND. HE ARRANGED FOR LIGHT SIGNALS TO TAKEOFF & DEPARTED IN CLEAR WEATHER AT ABOUT 1810 ON A NIGHT FLIGHT BACK TO MANKATO. BY THAT TIME, MANKATO WX WAS 900' TO 1100' BROKEN WITH DECREASING VISIBILITY. BEFORE REACHING MANKATO, THE PLANE REVERSED COURSE & CRASHED IN A SNOW COVERED FIELD (1-1/4 MI NW OF WASECA AIRPORT, HDG 100 DEG, ELEV 1020'). RADAR DATA SHOWED IT HAD MANEUVERED BETWEEN 2000' & 5300' BEFORE DESCENDING BELOW RADAR COVERAGE AT 2200'. NO PREIMPACT PART FAILURE WAS FOUND. LOCAL RESIDENTS SAID THE WEATHER CHANGED ABRUPTLY BETWEEN 1830 & 1900, WHEN A DENSE FOG DEVELOPED. THE ACCIDENT OCCURRED AT ABOUT 1905. LOGBOOK RECORDS SHOWED THE PILOT HAD 117 HOURS TOTAL FLIGHT TIME, INCLUDING 2 HRS SIMULATED INSTRUMENT TIME. FOG WAS NOT FORECAST UNTIL AN AMENDED FORECAST WAS ISSUED AT ABOUT 1945.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

CONTINUED VFR FLIGHT BY THE NON-INSTRUMENT RATED PILOT INTO INSTRUMENT METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS (IMC), AND HIS FAILURE TO MAINTAIN SUFFICIENT ALTITUDE (OR CLEARANCE) ABOVE THE GROUND. FACTORS RELATED TO THE ACCIDENT WERE: AN INACCURATE WEATHER FORECAST BY THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE, OPERATION OF THE AIRCRAFT BY THE PILOT WITH A KNOWN DEFICIENCY IN EQUIPMENT (RADIO), DARKNESS, THE ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS, THE PILOT'S PROBABLE SPATIAL DISORIENTATION, AND HIS LACK OF INSTRUMENT EXPERIENCE.

Full narrative available

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