NTSB Identification: NYC96FA158.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, July 24, 1996 in SEA BRIGHT, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/29/1997
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-181, registration: N84280
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 in VFR conditions. A witness stated that he heard the airplane's engine overhead in 'very foggy' conditions. He said he could not see the airplane, until it flew through a break in the fog. Reportedly, the airplane was northbound, it reentered the fog, then it made an abrupt 180 degree turn, followed by impact with the water. Examination of the wreckage revealed no preimpact failure of the airframe or engine. An updated AIRMET had been issued for the area; it included a forecast for IFR conditions with the ceiling below 1,000 feet and the visibility below 3 miles, with precipitation, fog and mist. There was no record of a weather briefing obtained by the pilot.

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

the pilot's continued VFR flight into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), and his failure to maintain control of the airplane, due to spatial disorientation, which resulted in a collision with water. Factors relating to the accident were the pilot's failure to obtain a weather briefing before flight, the adverse weather conditions, and the pilot's lack of instrument experience.

Full narrative available

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