NTSB Identification: IAD98FA070.
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Accident occurred Sunday, June 21, 1998 in OCEAN CITY, MD
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/01/1999
Aircraft: Cessna 172N, registration: N5944E
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 pilot had planned to make three takeoffs and landing for night currency. The pilot did not contact Flight Service for a weather briefing nor did he file a flight plan. When the pilot took off, visibility was poor due to heavy mist. A witness said visibility worsened when a wall of fog covered the airfield while the airplane was in the traffic pattern. He heard the airplane at full power, and watched it fly about 100 feet over the hangars where the landing gear was illuminated by the rotating beacon. The witness stated 'he throttled up to do a go-around' and heard the airplane all the way to impact. Emergency crews from four different municipalities required 1 hour and 20 minutes to locate the wreckage on the airport due to heavy fog. The airspeed indicator needle was crushed against the face at the 160 knot striation. The engine tachometer needle was crushed against the face at the 3200 RPM striation, 500 RPM above the placarded redline. A review of the pilot's logbook revealed he had 135 hours of total flight experience. He had logged 1.8 hours in the month before the accident. Prior to that, he had not flown in 7 months, and his last night experience was 18 months prior to the accident. He was not instrument rated.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain control of the aircraft due to spatial disorientation. Contributing factors wer fog, dark night conditions, lack of recent experience, inadequate preflight planning, and flight into known adverse weather.

Full narrative available

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