NTSB Identification: IAD98FA032.
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Accident occurred Sunday, March 01, 1998 in LANGLEY AFB, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/27/1999
Aircraft: Cessna 172P, registration: N62082
Injuries: 2 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 two pilots filed a local VFR flight plan and departed the 10,000 feet long runway to the east. According to United States Air Force weather observers, a cloud layer at 300 feet with fog was approaching the airport from the northeast at the same time the airplane departed. Shortly after takeoff, the airplane transmitted to the tower, '...we're going to come back for landing...uh...the ceiling is lower than we thought.' The tower controller acknowledged the call and instructed the airplane to report when it reached the base leg of the traffic pattern. The tower controller observed the airplane enter a climbing left turn and disappear into the approaching cloud layer. He said, 'It was nice and clear in all quadrants with a little overcast/light fog to the east.' Witnesses in proximity to the crash site reported they heard the airplane but could not be see it until it descended vertically out of the low cloud cover. The airplane collided with terrain and a building in the vicinity of the downwind leg of the traffic pattern. Examination of the wreckage revealed no pre-impact anomalies. The pilot in the left seat did not posses an instrument rating.

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

The pilot's inadvertent VFR flight into IMC conditions, and the subsequent loss of aircraft control due to spatial disorientation. A factor in the accident was the low ceiling.

Full narrative available

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