NTSB Identification: FTW96FA071.
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Accident occurred Saturday, December 16, 1995 in S PADRE ISLAND, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/07/1996
Aircraft: Cessna 150M, registration: N3862V
Injuries: 2 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 had accumulated a total of 215 hours of which 3.4 hours were simulated instrument time. The last simulated instrument time recorded was April 24, 1993. Witnesses observed the airplane descend out of the 'broken fog' at approximately 500-550 feet above the water. They reported that the airplane circled (360 degrees) as though trying to 'avoid flying into the fog.' As the airplane turned toward a southerly direction, it began a gentle descent and slight left turn as it disappeared below their line of sight. The witnesses reported the engine was 'running fine.' Another witness heard an explosion, and when he looked in the direction of the sound he saw what he thought was a boat breaking up and sinking. The witness proceeded to the area to search for survivors and recovered a wheel that was later identified as belonging to the accident airplane. The wreckage was located approximately 300 yards east of the Port Isabel north jetty. The Coast Guard transported divers to the site to search for survivors. The Coast Guard also dispatched a helicopter. However, it was unable to conduct a visual search due to fog.

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

VFR flight by the pilot into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), and his failure to maintain sufficient altitude (or clearance) above the surface of the water. Factors relating to the accident were: the adverse weather conditions (low ceiling and fog), and the pilot's lack of instrument experience.

Full narrative available

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