NTSB Identification: FTW96FA113.
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Accident occurred Friday, February 09, 1996 in GALVESTON, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/29/1997
Aircraft: Cessna 150, registration: N7973F
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.

Weather along the route of flight was VFR until the airplane reached the destination airport, where the weather was IMC at night with heavy fog. According to airport authorities and en route ATC and AFSS facilities, no radio communication was received from the pilot after he filed his initial VFR flight plan. He received a weather brief (valid until 1830 CST) from an AFSS before his initial departure at 1636 CST. The pilot refueled en route and departed the refueling airport at about 1915. After an overdue message was received, airport personnel at the destination located the wreckage at 2120, approximately 1,550 feet beyond the departure end of runway 35. The wreckage (including ground scars) was distributed over a 160 foot area and on a heading of 350 degrees. The pilot was not instrument rated and his last flight was 105 days before the accident. He had logged about 250 hours of flight time, of which 5 hours were simulated instrument time, but no actual instrument time was logged. Also, he had about 23 hours of night time. No uncorrected defects were found in the maintenance records; physical examination of the airframe and engine revealed no anomalies. The altimeter at the accident site was 30.03. The pilot had 29.91 dialed into the altimeter. According to the pilot of another airplane, who flew the ILS approach at about 2115 cst, he entered a fog at about 400 feet agl and made a missed approach at the decision height, because the 'the runway lights were not visible and the incandescent approach lights were barely visible.'

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

the pilot's inadvertent flight into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), and his failure to sufficient altitude. Factors relating to the accident were: darkness, foggy weather conditions, the pilot's lack of instrument experience, his lack of recent flight time, and spatial disorientation.

Full narrative available

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