NTSB Identification: NYC96FA182.
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Accident occurred Saturday, September 07, 1996 in FRANKFORD TWNSP, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/31/1997
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-140, registration: N422FL
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 pilot elected to conduct a night VFR flight in weather conditions described by witnesses as 1000 to 1500 foot ceiling and less than one mile visibility with fog. The airplane was reported missing that same night, and it was located 2 days later, about 5 miles west of the departure point. An examination of the crash site revealed the aircraft struck the ground in a steep nose down attitude. Examination of the wreckage did not disclose evidence of a mechanical malfunction. An updated weather advisory (AIRMET) had been issued for the area, which included a forecast for instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). There was no record that a weather briefing was obtained by the pilot. The pilot had logged 85 hours of instrument time, of which, 9 hours were logged as actual instrument time. The most recent actual instrument experience that he logged was during an instrument competency check, which was completed in August 1995. His most recent night experience was 0.7 hours, which was logged in August 1993. He had logged no actual instrument night experience.

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

the pilot's inadequate preflight planning/preparation by not obtaining a preflight weather briefing, his VFR flight into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), and his failure to maintain control of the aircraft after becoming spatial disoriented. Factors relating to the accident were: darkness, and the pilot's lack of recent experience in the type of operation (night and actual instrument flight conditions).

Full narrative available

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