NTSB Identification: DEN99FA012.
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Accident occurred Sunday, October 18, 1998 in BUFFALO, WY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/31/2000
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-235, registration: N8537N
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 non-instrument rated pilot departed on a VFR flight plan direct to his destination (altitude of 6,500 feet msl). Approximately 25 minutes after departure, he diverted south and then west. Approximately 90 minutes after takeoff, the pilot radioed Flight Watch to request a weather update. At that time, he said that 'it was getting a little soupy out here.' Sunset was at 1847. The weather conditions en route, at 1836, were deteriorating, with cloud ceilings lowered to 1,500 feet agl and scattered clouds at 800 feet agl. The VOR, near the accident site, was inoperable due to electrical power failure. The pilot radioed Flight Watch at 1845, and requested help to identify his location. The airplane impacted the mountain at approximately 1850 at approximately 7,000 feet msl. The accident site was approximately 100 nm south of his flight plan route.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The non-instrument rated pilot's initiated flight into adverse weather conditions and inadvertently flew into IMC weather conditions. Factors were the low ceiling weather conditions, the dark night light conditions, and a non operating VOR navigational aid. Full narrative available
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