NTSB Identification: NYC96FA052.
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Accident occurred Thursday, January 18, 1996 in HARWICH, MA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/11/1996
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-140, registration: N5934U
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 pilot departed on a local flight under VFR conditions. About 1.7 hours after departure, witnesses observed the airplane flying south towards the shore line in and out of clouds, about 700 feet above the ground. The airplane turned east when it reached the shore line, paralleled the coast, and reentered the clouds. The airplane was found submerged in water, 1 mile further east. Examination of the wreckage revealed no pre-impact failure of the airframe or engine. The departure airport weather was IFR until 1200, and the pilot departed about 1400, under a 12,000 foot ceiling and 10 miles visibility. The airport weather returned to a 200 foot ceiling and 3/4 mile visibility, about 1500. There was no record of the pilot obtaining a weather briefing or filing a flight plan.

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

the pilot's improper in-flight decision to continue flight under visual flight rules, while flying into instrument meteorological conditions. Also causal was the pilot's failure to maintain control of the airplane after entering IMC, which resulted in the subsequent collision with the water. A factor in this accident was that the pilot was not instrument rated.

Full narrative available

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