NTSB Identification: ATL95FA088.
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Accident occurred Saturday, April 22, 1995 in ATLANTA, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/15/1996
Aircraft: CESSNA 172N, registration: N3220E
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 RECEIVED A WEATHER BRIEFING BEFORE DEPARTING. DURING THE BRIEFING, HE WAS ADVISED OF APPROACHING RAIN AND THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY. WHILE TAXIING FOR TAKEOFF, TOWER PERSONNEL ASKED HIM IF HE WAS AWARE OF A SIGMET THAT WAS IN EFFECT FOR THE ATLANTA AREA; THE PILOT REPLIED THAT HE WAS. AFTER TAKEOFF, HE DEPARTED NORTHEAST BOUND ON A VFR FLIGHT TO RALEIGH, NC. WITNESSES AT AN ELECTRICAL PLANT HEARD A SMALL AIRCRAFT FLYING IN THE AREA BEFORE THEY HEARD THE AIRCRAFT HIT THE PLANT'S CONCRETE SMOKE STACK. THEY THEN OBSERVED THE AIRCRAFT DESCENDING OUT OF THE BASE OF THE CLOUDS. THE LEFT WING WAS FOLDED BACK AGAINST THE FUSELAGE, AND THE AIRCRAFT WAS SPINNING AS IT CRASHED INTO THE GROUND. THE SMOKE STACK WAS ABOUT 880' TALL, AND ITS TOP WAS OBSCURED BY CLOUDS. IMPACT MARKS WERE FOUND ABOUT 75' FROM THE TOP OF THE SMOKE STACK. A TOXICOLOGY TEST OF THE PILOT'S BLOOD REVEALED 0.005 MCG/ML OF TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL AND 0.011 MCG/ML OF TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL CARBOXYLIC ACID (METABOLITES OF MARIJUANA).

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

THE PILOT'S IMPAIRMENT OF JUDGMENT AND PERFORMANCE DUE TO A DRUG, VFR FLIGHT INTO INSTRUMENT METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS, AND FAILURE TO REMAIN CLEAR OF THE OBSTACLE (TOWERING SMOKE STACK). FACTORS RELATING TO THE ACCIDENT WERE: THE ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS.

Full narrative available

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