NTSB Identification: ATL98FA007.
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Accident occurred Thursday, November 06, 1997 in HAMILTON, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/30/1998
Aircraft: Champion 7ECA, registration: N9556S
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.

When the pilot failed to arrive for his brother's college graduation, concerned family members reported that he and his airplane were missing. A search was initiated, and the Civil Air Patrol located the airplane on top of Pine Mountain. According to the pilot's personal flight log, his intended destination was Pensacola, FL, with intermediate stops for fuel at Thomson, GA, and Greenville, AL. Airport personal at Thomson confirmed that the airplane landed about 1630 on 11/6/97. They reported that the pilot purchased 26.5 gallons of 100LL fuel and departed about 1700. Witnesses at the Thomson Airport stated that when he took off, the weather was marginal VFR and deteriorating rapidly. Witnesses near Pine Mountain stated that the visibility at the time of the accident was about 1/4 mile in haze/fog. About 15 miles south of the accident site at Columbus, GA, the weather was, in part: 400 feet broken, 1200 feet overcast, visibility 4 miles with haze. Elevation at Columbus was 394 feet; elevation of the accident site was 1190 feet with 100 to 150 foot trees covering the mountain. The airplane impacted trees about 50 feet above the ground. Estimated time of the accident was 1845 (at about the time darkness was falling).

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

VFR flight by the pilot into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), and his failure to maintain sufficient altitude or clearance from mountainous terrain. Related factors were: darkness, adverse weather conditions, and the pilot's self induced pressure to attend his brother's graduation the following day.

Full narrative available

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