NTSB Identification: CHI98LA094.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, February 18, 1998 in WOOD LAKE, NE
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/16/2001
Aircraft: Ercoupe (Eng & Research Corp.) 415-C, registration: N99270
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 pilot took off from Bassett, Nebraska, in a misty, light rain, at about 1930 central standard time (cst), en route to Valentine, Nebraska [60 miles away]. At approximately 2100 cst, the airport manager at Valentine received a telephone call from the pilot's sister, inquiring as to her brother's whereabouts. The airport manager called the fixed base operator at Bassett. The pilot's sister contacted the Cherry County, Nebraska, Sheriff's Department, and reported the pilot missing. The Nebraska Wing of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), began an aerial search for the pilot's airplane at 2240 cst. The search was terminated 30 minutes later, when the CAP pilot began picking up ice on the airplane at 1,000 feet above ground level (agl). The aerial search was re-convened the following morning. The wreckage was found at approximately 0830 cst. The Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) station at Ainsworth, Nebraska, at 1952 cst, reported an overcast ceiling of 3,400 and 10 miles visibility. The sheriff, who was part of the ground search the night of the accident, described the weather as being a mixture of freezing drizzle, rain, and snow, with low clouds and low ceilings. On arrival at the accident site the following day, the sheriff said that he felt ice on the surface of one of the airplane's wings. Examination of the wreckage revealed no anomalies.

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

the pilot's intentional flight into adverse weather conditions, the wing ice, and the inadvertent stall. Factors contributing to this accident were the rain, freezing rain and low ceilings.

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