NTSB Identification: NYC98FA020.
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Accident occurred Sunday, October 26, 1997 in ELKTON, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/01/1999
Aircraft: Cessna 172E, registration: N3097U
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 private pilot took off on a VFR cross country flight in IMC conditions. The pilot did not possess an instrument rating and the airplane was not certified for IFR operation. He did not obtain a weather briefing and did not file a flight plan. The pilot told a witness that he planned to 'get above the clouds.' Radar data revealed the airplane was aloft for 1 hour and 43 minutes, but traveled a straight line distance of only 46 miles. Examination of the airplane's ground track revealed several heading changes greater than 270 degrees with three turns of 360 degrees. The airplane came to rest suspended in trees on top of a ridgeline approximately 3,300 feet above sea level.

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

The pilot's intention VFR flight into instrument meteorological conditions. Contributing factors were clouds and mountainous/hilly terrain..

Full narrative available

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