NTSB Identification: FTW95FA150.
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Accident occurred Thursday, March 30, 1995 in DALHART, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/24/1995
Aircraft: CESSNA 177RG, registration: N35917
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 NON-INSTRUMENT RATED PRIVATE PILOT WAS EN ROUTE FROM NORTH CAROLINA TO NEW MEXICO WHEN HE STOPPED AT DALHART ON 03/29/95 AND DECIDED TO REMAIN OVERNIGHT AFTER CONVERSING WITH OTHER PILOTS WHO WERE DELAYING THEIR DEPARTURES DUE TO REPORTED ICING CONDITIONS. HE TOLD A WITNESS THAT HE WAS 'WORRIED ABOUT HIS JOB' AND WAS EXPECTED TO REPORT FOR WORK AT MIDNIGHT THAT EVENING. INSTRUMENT WEATHER CONDITIONS PREVAILED THE NEXT MORNING UNTIL ABOUT 1000 WHEN THE VISIBILITY INCREASED TO 15 MILES. THE PILOT DID NOT OBTAIN A WEATHER BRIEFING PRIOR TO DEPARTING ABOUT 1015, ALTHOUGH ANOTHER PILOT ADVISED HIM THAT HE HAD JUST DRIVEN THROUGH SNOW ON HIS WAY INTO TOWN FROM THE WEST. APPROXIMATELY ONE HOUR AFTER TAKEOFF, THE PILOT CALLED THE DALHART UNICOM AND REPORTED THAT HE WAS CIRCLING THE VOR BUT COULD NOT FIND THE AIRPORT. AFTER RECEIVING DIRECTIONS FROM THE VOR TO THE AIRPORT, THE PILOT REPORTED HE WAS HEADED FOR THE AIRPORT. A WITNESS NEAR THE AIRPORT OBSERVED THE AIRPLANE 'APPEAR OUT OF THE SNOWSTORM', MANEUVER BRIEFLY, THEN ENTER 'A SHARP LEFT BANK WITH AN EXTREME NOSE DOWN ANGLE', IMPACT THE GROUND AND 'BURST INTO FLAMES.'

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

THE PILOT'S VFR FLIGHT INTO IMC CONDITIONS AND THE ENSUING SPATIAL DISORIENTATION. FACTORS WERE THE PILOT'S SELF-INDUCED PRESSURE TO REACH HIS DESTINATION, HIS FAILURE TO OBTAIN A WEATHER BRIEFING FOR THE FLIGHT, AND THE WEATHER CONDITIONS.

Full narrative available

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