NTSB Identification: SEA97LA050.
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Accident occurred Sunday, January 19, 1997 in LOPEZ, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/25/1997
Aircraft: Cessna 180J, registration: N42376
Injuries: 2 Minor.
NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The airline transport pilot decided to depart from a private airstrip at night and in reported marginal VFR conditions. He did not receive a weather briefing nor file a flight plan prior to the flight. Immediately after departure, about 150 feet above the ground, he inadvertently entered instrument meteorological conditions in the form of clouds and fog. He lost sight of the terrain and became disoriented. The airplane impacted trees and then descended into the water. The airplane was substantially damaged and sank. The pilot and his passenger escaped with minor injuries. The pilot indicated that there were no mechanical malfunctions, and that he should not have flown due to the uncertainty of favorable weather.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's improper decision to initiate flight into marginal VFR conditions at night which led to inadvertent flight into instrument meteorological conditions, and his failure to maintain adequate clearance from terrain. Factors contributing to the accident were a low ceiling, fog, and dark night conditions. Full narrative available
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