NTSB Identification: ATL98FA053.
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Accident occurred Sunday, February 22, 1998 in CLINTON, MS
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/15/2001
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-235, registration: N9166W
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.

Following a takeoff in low ceilings, rain, & carburetor icing conditions, the pilot failed to maintain the assigned heading, or climb to the assigned altitude. Radar data depicted the airplane executing a meandering flight path, and his radio communications with air traffic were sporadic and ineffectual. Even though the pilot reported reaching his assigned altitude of 4,000 feet, radar data indicated the highest altitude was 2,300 feet. A pilot who departed to search for the reported accident stated he encountered carburetor icing just after takeoff. The carburetor heat valve for the accident airplane was found locked in an intermediate position in the wreckage, & there was evidence of low engine power at impact. Disassembly of the carburetor airbox revealed scrape marks on the interior of the box indicating the carburetor heat valve had been forced toward the warm position by impact forces. The spark plugs exhibited light sooting. The pilot's fight records recorded one three hour instrument flight after he had obtained his instrument rating about seven years prior to the accident.

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

The pilot's lack of recent instrument flight experience that led to spatial disorientation and loss of airplane control; and his improper use of carburetor heat that resulted in a loss of engine power and subsequent collision with the ground during an emergency descent. Factors were low ceilings, rain, and weather conditions conducive to carburetor icing.

Full narrative available

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