NTSB Identification: MIA94FA078.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, February 22, 1994 in INVERNESS, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/18/1994
Aircraft: PIPER PA-28-161, registration: N44899
Injuries: 1 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 NONINSTRUMENT-RATED PRIVATE PILOT WAS ON A NIGHT CROSS-COUNTRY FLIGHT AT 8,500 FEET AGL FLIGHT FOLLOWING WITH JACKSONVILLE CENTER. THE PILOT REQUESTED TO DESCEND TO 4,500 FEET. THE REQUEST WAS APPROVED, AND THE PILOT WAS INSTRUCTED TO MAINTAIN VISUAL METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS. THE PILOT DESCENDED THROUGH HIS ASSIGNED ALTITUDE. ATTEMPTS TO ESTABLISH RADIO CONTACT WITH THE PILOT WERE UNSUCCESSFUL. A WITNESS OBSERVED THE AIRPLANE DESCEND THROUGH THE CLOUDS, AND MAKE A HARD RIGHT TURN ESTIMATED AT ABOUT 45 DEGREEES WITH THE ENGINE RUNNING BEFORE THE AIRPLANE DISAPPEARED FROM VIEW. AN INCREASE IN ENGINE RPM WAS HEARD FOLLOWED BY AN IMPACT, AND SUBSEQUENT TOTAL SILENCE.

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

The pilot-in-command's lack of total experience in instrument flight, simulated instrument flight, and night flight resulting in the pilot becoming spatially disoriented, and subsequent in-flight collision with terrain. Contributing to the accident was the dark night with no visible horizon.

Full narrative available

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