NTSB Identification: FTW98FA086.
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Accident occurred Saturday, January 03, 1998 in TREMONTON, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/08/1998
Aircraft: Piper PA-38-112, registration: N23371
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 noninstrument-rated private pilot, a foreign national, embarked on a solo cross-country flight to fulfill the experience requirements required for commercial pilot certification. FSS advised the pilot that VFR flight was not recommended. The pilot filed a VFR flight plan and departed Ogden, Utah. He arrived in Caldwell, Idaho, refueled, and obtained another FSS weather briefing. Again, he was advised that VFR flight was not recommended. He filed a VFR flight plan and departed Caldwell en route back to Ogden. Radar data indicated that the pilot did not track the airway to Malad City, Idaho, but instead followed a highway to the vicinity of Tremonton, Utah. There, it was seen to maneuver in a 'primary weather cell.' The wreckage was located 3 days later within 0.1 mile of the last radar contact.

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, becoming spatially disoriented and his subsequent loss of aircraft control. Factors were the dark night and weather conditions that included obscuration and snow.

Full narrative available

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